Mars and Terraforming

by Haley Yahraus

In 1971, Mariner 9 orbited Mars and took pictures that implied running water once existed on the planet’s surface, prompting plans for future Mars missions. A mere four years later, in 1975, Viking I was launched into space, ultimately becoming the first Mars rover to land on the planet, marking one of the greatest milestones of space exploration.

In the year of 2008, the space rover Phoenix found an ice sample and discovered water vapor using a mass spectrometer. This breakthrough confirmed the existence of H2O on Mars, and in addition ice sheets were later found at the bottoms of craters and inside rocks.

Now scientists have found liquid water inside ice caps on the planet’s coldest places. The liquid state of water can only exist on Mars for brief intermittent periods close to the surface where the atmospheric pressure and temperature allow it.

This water is now greater indication that some form of life existed—and possibly still exists—on the Martian planet.

There is a possibility of some day terraforming Mars, which would allow it to be suitable for humans. In order for the planet to sustain life, NASA scientists would have to raise the pressure of its atmosphere and heighten its temperature. Doing so could have implications on global warming, and information found during the terraforming project could possibly provide a solution to environmental damage on Earth.

Sources:

http://video.foxnews.com/v/4516001850001/implications-of-discovery-of-liquid-water-on-mars/?#sp=show-clips

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mars/missions/index-past.html

http://www.space.com/17048-water-on-mars.html

http://www.space.com/30502-mars-giant-ice-sheet-discovery-mro.html

http://quest.nasa.gov/mars/background/terra.html