Enough Already. Does Mars Have Life or Not?
Mars has been teasing us for a long, long time. It has canals! announced Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1877. No, it doesn’t, responded NASA‘s Mariner 4 spacecraft when it flew by the planet in 1965. But there might still be microbial life, we all insisted. Not that we can detect, answered the twin Viking spacecraft when they landed on the surface in 1976.
It’s gone back and forth like that ever since, with Earth-based telescopes as well as NASA’s flock of Mars orbiters and rovers detecting topographic formations and surface chemistry definitively proving that Mars was once a warm and very waterlogged place. What’s more, deposits of water persist still, locked in polar ice and in underground deposits, some of which melt and percolate to the surface in spring. None of the scooping and sampling and scanning by the spacecraft has produced any proof of biology, but…
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