It appears there is actually running water on Mars – at least, during the Martian summer, when the planet defrosts for a moment and oozes out some salty slushies, like a bad case of planetary acne, and they run down the hillsides until everything freezes up again.
It’s pretty fascinating news, but it’s not going to turn Martian colonization into a piece of cake. It’s not a steady, dependable supply and it might well require a lot of processing before it’s drinkable by human beings, but scientists are jazzed because where there is water, there is life.
O.K., but since the water is only on the surface for part of the Martian year, that life has to be very good at hibernating, like 7 year locust good. It’s not as if we’ve got little men standing in front of our cameras waving at us.
In fact, there are other places in the Solar System -Jupiter’s moon Europa and Saturn’s moon Titan, for instance – which might have huge, ice-covered oceans filled with weird, alien sea monsters.
Still, it’s good news, it’s another piece of the puzzle, it brings us a step closer to where we want to be, but I don’t expect it’s really going to spark the public imagination and create a surge of public opinion for Martian exploration. Even today, on the very day it’s happening, people are talking more about the Pope and Donald Trump.
Science geeks are fascinated, but I figure the public will stay interested for about maybe a day and a half.
Which is why I’m blogging about it tonight.