Ch…Ch…Ch…Ch…Changes … water on Mars?

While the notion of a perfect and unchanging heavens has been out of scientific vogue for a few centuries, it was dealt a final death blow recently with photos of the surface of mars. Paradoxically, at the same time, old notions of a living Mars gained new unexpected new breath. In modern times, Mars is the dead planet … unbearably cold with a wispy non-atmosphere, a place where we could study ancient sand formations. Change wasn’t really much in the cards for modern Mars … some mild shifting of dunes by what passes for weather on Mars, but generally speaking, if we look at the same spot twice in 7 years on Mars, we expect it to look pretty much the same both times.

marswater_mgs_big.jpg
from Astronomy Picture of the Day

Taken from the Orbiter Camera on the Mars Global Surveyor, recently released images of mid and high latitude Mars clearly show some sort of discharge from the wall of a crater that changes the formations on the crater wall. Taken over the past few years, but only released in earl Dec 2006, these images are yet more evidence of liquid flow on Mars in current times. While there’s no direct evidence that the liquid is water, combined with other evidence it seems a likely conclusion that liquid water jets sometimes spring forth from the Martian soil before evaporating after a short flow. If true, that makes prospects for human colonization of Mars far more attractive … carrying water into space is a HUGE undertaking both in terms of space and weight. Its another piece in the Mars base puzzle, and certainly one that brings us a step closer to humans on Mars.

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