For nearly a decade, robots have been traversing the barren landscape of Mars. Primarily geological survey missions, the previous rovers were concerned mainly with gathering any basic data it could of the Martian landscape. It wasn’t until our satellites in orbit around the red planet began sending images back to Earth of a Mars we never could have imagined—a dynamic world with drifting sand dunes, unmistakable evidence of past rivers and lakes, even proof of frozen water all across the surface—and we started to wonder if there could be more to the red planet than we ever dared dream.
The exploration of Mars has not only allowed us to broaden our expectations of what we might find on other planets, but it has given us the chance to believe in what we could never before allow ourselves to take for granted; the possibility of life on other worlds.
We know there are oceans of water on moons orbiting other planets within our solar system. We’ve even seen jets of organic chemicals spewing out into space from some of them. We’ve captured images of storms on these previously assumed “dead” worlds. Rain and wind; weather exactly as we find here on Earth. We know so much more about what might be thanks to these astonishing discoveries, and still we haven’t yet discovered proof of life anywhere but on our own world.
This, however, might change quite soon. The latest Mars rover, Curiosity, has one mission, to explore a strange new world, and to seek out evidence of life, past or present. This mission is perhaps the most important mission in the history of human space exploration since we set foot on the moon. As the moon landing proved humanity can make it to other worlds, Curiosity could be the mission where we finally prove that life isn’t unique to our planet.
At the very least, Curiosity has already begun sending back startling images of the surface of Mars. These images will have to tide us over until more substantial discoveries come to light and blow our minds, and change our perspective on life and the universe forever!
Image Source: [cnet]