For centuries, humanity concluded that Mars is a pretty peculiar planet. First, we thought that the Red Planet is the home to “Martians”, and long after, scientists started to claim that our neighboring celestial object can host at least some forms of life. And now we are planning to actually become the first Martians.
But is Mars enough habitable at the moment? Does it have the right conditions for supporting even the most basic forms of life? We may not have an irrefutable answer yet, but we can conclude some things about the current environment of the Red Planet.
Significant changes in the Martian environment
A team led by Candice Bedford from the Lunar and Planetary Institute identified chemicals that indicate changes in mineralogy across the Stimson formation. The Stimson formation basically means the ancient dunes preserved in the rock record of the Gale crater from Mars.
The dunes were examined by the NASA Mars Science Laboratory’s (MSL) Curiosity rover for two precise locations using the Chemistry and Camera instrument suite. The conclusion was imminent: those ancient dunes migrated across vast distances from the Mars’ surface after the environment changed. It was once an environment that could support a perennial river-lake system, and it made the shift to the arid climate, and cold environment observed today.
We can’t move to Mars just yet
Even though space agencies like SpaceX have as the ultimate goal to colonize the Red Planet, this would most likely be the most difficult process in the history of mankind. First of all, it would take a very large amount of time to create a fully hospitable atmosphere on Mars. Second, the fuel consumption for carrying humans at such huge distances would be tremendous.
Hopefully, our best bet regarding the planet Mars is that it hosts at least some primitive alien life forms like bacteria. Such a scenario would completely change our view about life in general. Whatever the truth may be, what’s certain is that plenty of questions remain unanswered.