Hopeful for Life on Mars?

By: Sara Muharremi  |  May 12, 2020
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By Sara Muharremi, Staff Writer

If you had $15 dollars laying around, would you spend it on a Groupon for an acre of land on Mars? I almost did. 

First let’s set aside the legitimacy of the Groupon, because they had a similar deal for Jupiter too and I’m not sure Elon Musk or NASA thinks Jupiter will be inhabited anytime soon. 

Could there really be life on Mars in the future? Would this $15 dollar piece of land on our neighbor planet be an investment for my great-great-grandchildren? 

It’s been said that about 4 billion years ago the surface of Mars had rivers, lakes, and even oceans. However, charged particles from the sun eventually wore down the planet’s global magnetic field, leaving it cold and dry. But because there used to be life, some people believe that even though there is not life currently there, it can be restored somehow, especially through Mars’ ground. Due to there having been water on the surface in the past, it is likely that deep within Mars’ surface there could be sources of water and/or some type of “wetness.” 

“[…] Observations by Europe’s Mars Express orbiter suggest that a big lake may lurk beneath the Red Planet’s south pole.” To support this theory, in 1984 a rock in Antarctica was found by geologists, and after further examination of this rock in 1996, they concluded that the rock had come from Mars. The rock had formed 4.5 billion years ago, and then 16 million years ago due to a probable impact from an asteroid, the rock was sent into space where it eventually landed in Antarctica. What is important to note about the rock is that it has a chemical makeup that is “[…] peculiar [… because] it contained a combination of minerals and carbon compounds that on Earth are created by microbes. It also had crystals of magnetic iron oxide, called magnetite, which some bacteria produce.” 

However, since NASA is a government agency, many of their goals and executions are determined by the President. No human has set foot on Mars yet and this is not due to technology or our engineering abilities, but rather due to politics and lack-of-funding. 

The most recent impact that government funding has had on NASA was during the Obama administration. He shifted NASA to shift focus from sending people to the moon to sending people to Mars. Now, under the Trump administration, Trump has shifted NASA’s focus and funding, yet again to go to the Moon once more, and not Mars.

There are currently many programs in effect attempting to explore Mars. NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover, the European-Russian ExoMars Rover, and private space programs such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX program are the few programs aimed at exploring this peculiar planet. However, it seems like politics and funding will eventually determine whether or not humans will be sent to Mars anytime soon, and with the rate our Earth is declining and the way we’re treating our atmosphere, we might not even be able to get to Mars in time. I’d take your $15 dollars elsewhere. Go enjoy a greasy pizza pie before the world ends. Treat yourself. 

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Sources:

https://www.cnbc.com/2020/03/09/spacex-plans-how-elon-musk-see-life-on-mars.html

https://www.space.com/could-mars-support-life-today.html

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/life-on-mars-78138144/

https://spaceplace.nasa.gov/review/dr-marc-solar-system/life-on-mars.html

 

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