Mars: Could It Be the Kind of Place to Raise Your Kids?


Once again, squinting hard at satellite photos of the forbidding Red Planet indicates that…there….just….might….be some water there for the young 'uns to splash around in, despite it being cold as hell. From the Daily Mail account:

NASA researchers have documented the formation of new craters on the plant's surface and found bright, light-coloured deposits in gullies that were not present in previous photos.

They concluded the deposits—possibly mud, salt or frost—were left there when water recently cascaded through the channels.

In another photo a number of gullies on a crater wall can be clearly seen. The scientists believe that they may have been formed in relatively recent Martian history by erosion caused by flowing, liquid water.

The pictures were captured in October by the unmanned spacecraft the Mars Global Surveyor, which carries the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), and circumnavigates Mars, the fourth planet from the Sun in the solar system.

Ron Bailey back in 2004 on why you don't need government-sponsored Rocket Men to get to Mars; Tim Cavanaugh from earlier this year on why we may never get off this damned Big Blue Marble no matter how moist Mars might be; a 1999 classic Reason feature from the New York Times's John Tierney speculating on various possibilities for a human future on Mars; and a not-safe-for-work model kit of Dejah Thoris, Edgar Rice Burroughs' princess of Mars.


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  1. All this science, I don’t understand. It’s just my job, five days a week.

  2. It’s been a while since I read some of those Mars books, but I can’t recall Martians ever fighting with axes.

  3. I recently re-read a bunch of those books using Project Gutenberg. They go so quickly that you hardly notice that it is the same story over and over again. Also, wasn’t Dejah red?

  4. JPL made its big move in California based on Mars and manned colony there. So, after the rovers it’s man. The money involved is huge, so no one is going to say terra form Mars; it takes only a year to convert the aptmonsphere and we can move right after-we have to colonize in the ixisting aptmosphere and spend 100s of billions more in Cali and save the planet for research.

  5. As a kids, my friends and I fantasized about canals on Mars and the chance of life there. In High School, we were taught there is no way that Schiaparelli could have seen canals with the optics he had and he either imagined them or it was some type of optical illusion. Maybe, we will find that Schiaparelli was viewing Mars and making his sketches during a time of relatively robust water flow.

    At any rate, Barnard owes Schiaparelli a major apology for writing this:
    I have been watching and drawing the surface of Mars. It is wonderfully full of detail. There is certainly no question about there being mountains and plateaus. To save my soul I can’t believe in the canals as Schiaparelli draws them. I see details where he has drawn none. I see details where some of his canals are, but they are not straight lines at all. When best seen these details are very irregular and broken up … I verily believe … that the canals … are a fallacy and that they will so be proved before many favorable oppositions are past.

    But, I will never forgive him (and my science teacher) for dashing my hopes for water and life on Mars. How sweet it is that in my fifties, hope is renewed and that Schiaparelli’s reputation may yet ascend over the naysayers.

  6. Typical libertarians – you get a hot nearly naked Martian chick and all you do is bitch over the details.

  7. And of course no mention of the fact that Mars is warming almost degree-to-degree with Earth…

  8. Do I detect a martian wax job on Dejah?

  9. Typical libertarians – you get a hot nearly naked Martian chick and all you do is bitch over the details.

    You should have seen the complaining on the comic-book web sites when the not-red Dejah made her debut.

  10. I admire a woman who takes the time to do her nails and makeup before picking up her battle-axe – I think we can all agree it shows an admirable self-possession. (A very libertarian trait, not so?)

  11. Peachy,

    Yeah, except that the face on that figurine looks like a man. Ugh.

  12. And of course no mention of the fact that Mars is warming almost degree-to-degree with Earth…

    Guess they’ll blame that on the Rebublicans as well…

  13. Scientists say they have photographic evidence that suggests liquid water may have been on the planet as little as five years ago.

    God dammit! We just missed it! What in hell are the odds???!!!

  14. And of course no mention of the fact that Mars is warming almost degree-to-degree with Earth…

    Actually, the very strength of the correlation makes it suspicious. Given that the earth and Mars are at different distances (and hence the flux of sunlight at the earth’s surface is greater than the flux of sunlight at the surface of Mars), and the big differences in weather, absorption mechanisms, feedback mechanisms (e.g. water cycle), etc., it seems unlikely that the sun can account for all of the recent changes in the earth’s climate. Simply put, I would expect the earth and Mars to respond to the same solar stimulus in different manners. If they respond in the same way, I would have to examine the possibility that something additional is happening on earth.

    None of this should be taken as a definitive refutation, just as a good argument in favor of skepticism.

  15. JeffP et al. Links?

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