Leon’s Take: Findings on Mars will open door for discoveries
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Photo by Sam Klein / Sagamore Staff
In September, NASA announced that it had acquired evidence from images taken by one of its orbiters that there is flowing water on Mars. This news was followed by a recent announcement that Mars potentially had life-sustainable lakes billions of years ago. This explains sediment accumulation that formed the foundation of Mount Sharp, a mountain on Mars.
Scientists have already concluded that Mars has polar ice caps and glacial belts, but this recent finding is still important. Perchlorate salts detected in the water on Mars are conducive to the life of microbes and allow the water to stay in liquid form because its high concentration drastically lowers the water’s freezing temperature.
These recent announcements are both mind-boggling and exciting. They could pave the way to finally discovering and studying life on Mars, a truly amazing phenomenon. Humanity has achieved great progress in developing the technologies to send spacecraft to Mars, and to find life on the red planet would be momentous and a watershed moment in scientific history.
Also, examining the life on other planets could grant us new insights into our own biology and the building blocks of earth and throughout the universe.
But finding life on Mars also poses existential questions. Life on other planets would change the way in which we comprehend our own lives. What defines life? And how is it possible to build life in a seemingly hostile environment such as Mars? Finding life on Mars would encouraging the production of new hypotheses about life on other planets and in other galaxies.
The possibilities of these breakthroughs spurs me to reexamine my place in the world. If life, especially intelligent life, was found on other planets, I would certainly feel some trepidation. The stability and structure of the way I see the world would be shattered by the chance of interaction with other life forms. I would fear the uncertain and the unknown.
However, I am also truly excited. Many believe that we are the only life in the universe. The presence of other life forms would undermine this isolation. We would know that we are not alone, that other ecosystems exist. We would unlock many secrets to the universe and allow us to take one step closer to uncovering the meaning of it all.