There Is Water On Mars: What Happens Next?

The Inverse staff considers the realistic and fantastical ramifications of NASA's latest Mars announcement. 

Illustration of water on Mars

Yesterday NASA announced that they found proof of liquid water flowing on Mars’ surface. This raises a ton of questions, which we’ll certainly be covering in the future, but today the staff wanted to discuss the possibilities of life on Mars, uses for Martian water, and calming down our fears of inter-planetary war.

David Turner: Not to be too alarmist, but once Neel alerted us to the fact NASA might be announcing they found flowing water on Mars, I was nervous. I was afraid that my comfortable worldview — sans alien life — would begin to crumble and I’d be on the verge of admitting to any new life form that doesn’t call Earth its home. Now that NASA did make this announcement of Mars water, I’m essentially one microscopic life form away from leaving this planet. Anyone down with me in this “Fuck Earth / Up With Mars” lifestyle switch?

Neel Patel: Well actually, pushes up glasses…the conditions on Mars right now are barely inhabitable for any kind of life. If there’s life on Mars and it’s living in the water, it’s living in some insanely salty water that boils at just 10 degrees Celsius because of the thin atmosphere. The confirmation of liquid water is awesome, no doubt — but it doesn’t really mean there’s anything sitting in it.

What’s more interesting, however, is that — with what we know about how Mars was like one great big ocean millions and millions of years ago — life might have been kicking it a long time ago. I’d be excited to find fossils of extinct organisms that were livin’ it up in Aqualand a long time ago.

All that being said, I’ve always been an advocate of the “fuck Earth, let’s go to Mars” movement. I’m pretty much over having to live on a planet that let “Hotel California” come into existence. This is not okay.

Winston Cook-Wilson: Here’s the thing, Neel: It’s cool that you’re coming in with the “facts” and everything, but have you considered that you might not be in possession of the whole story? Do you have access to the full, unadulterated data that’s coming directly back to us? Do we really know something couldn’t survive up there? Do our probably-feeble minds know all of what “life” can be? Is there such a thing as a steadfast “fact”? We can’t just hang our hats on this tiny snippet of “water” intel. Something’s breeding up there that no one can see, or that someone down here doesn’t want all of us skeptics to know about.

I don’t know how I’ll react when we know of our space brothers and sisters, or when I finally shake one of their scaly, suction-cup-covered hands, or get my whole arm dissolved by one of their space blasters. But I am very ready to accept that they are slurping down those hot-dog-flavored droplets up there on the low, readying for the descent.

Yasmin Tayag: Wait, alien deniers still exist? Turner, there’s no way we’re the only life forms out there. It’s not so bad once you accept it. The most surprising revelation of this week is that Neel managed to prophesize the fuck out of NASA, not that there’s water on Mars. We already knew about the ice caps. Even if there wasn’t water on Mars, that wouldn’t necessarily preclude life from existing there. Who says life has to be carbon- and oxygen based? That’s some narrow-minded human-centric shit.

That said, I’ve always been cool with the idea of aliens because I figure they would’ve already come at us if they wanted to. But maybe we just haven’t pissed them off enough yet. Tapping their water supply might do it.

Ben Guarino: I’m less worried about us and more worried about boning the Martian microbes if they exist. Now that we have proof of water on Mars, the odds of extremophiles as we know them living on Mars gets a little better. NASA has a tolerance of 300,000 bacterial spores per Mars rover surface, and we’ve been sending a bunch of crap from our filthy planet since the ‘70s. I mean, we could end up reverse-Andromeda Straining all the microscopic martian critters when somebody forgets to alcohol swab those hard-to-reach bits between the landing treads. Or Mars has to at least get used to new earth immigrants.

Corban Goble: I’m all good with water on Mars as long as that Mars water works in my Space Bong brahhhhhhhhhhh.

#SquadGoals or whatever.

David Turner: Reasonable point Corban. The Science crew (Ben, Neel and Yasmin) brought some real facts that we’ve — obviously not me — already known: there was ice on Mars, yet maybe this is the moment that pushes things over the edge into intergalactic warfare. Personally I don’t like violence and don’t want war, but if this is the catalyst for our first real planetary war, I just hope we’re ready.

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