Water on Mars

Unless you've been living on Mars, you probably know by now that the NASA Phoenix rover found water on Mars recently.  Then again, if you're living on Mars, you probably already knew this.  Or if you didn't, you must have brought your own water with you, which would have been a smart move. 

You'll remember that when Phoenix first landed, photos of the first dig revealed something that looked a lot like ice, which sublimed by the time the next photos were received.  This was pretty good evidence of water, but nobody was willing to start planning their next fishing trip to Mars based on that alone.

Then last week, Phoenix was able to scoop up a couple centimeters of Martian regolith and process it in its specially-modified Easy Bake oven for analysis.  What it found was even more exciting than just the presence of H2O; Phoenix revealed that the dirt it was sniffing and tasting was remarkably similar to what we have on Earth, at least around Antarctica.  The alkalinity of the Martian soil would be well suited for growing asparagus and turnips, both of which are pretty darn good, but I don't think either would qualify as comfort-foods if you were away on a long vacation to Mars.

But wait, there's more: the Martian soil is also very appropriate for supporting a whole host of bacteria, which, just maybe, already lives there.  See, this is slightly more interesting than the plant thing because we're pretty sure no fields of asparagus currently exist on Mars.

But wait, there's even more: NASA is currently briefing the White House on an important new discovery--something even more provocative than the discovery of water or familiar dirt on Mars.

What could it be ?  Tiny green men that whisper advice into your ear and vanish at annoyingly inconvenient moments ?  Robots that want to push (or shove) you down the stairs ?

We can't be sure yet.  But just in case, I'm having signs printed that say "I, for one, welcome our new Martian overlords."