Don’t pack your bags for Mars just yet

By Don Lincoln

Water is literally the elixir of life. Without it, no Earthly living organism can survive. It’s the reason that the Sahara and Atacama deserts are barren wastelands.

When humans began exploring our planet, each time they encountered a new island or valley, finding drinkable water was their first order of business. And as we turn our attention to the heavens, imagining a future in which intrepid explorers will search the solar system for places to live, the situation is pretty much the same. Celestial bodies with water will be the first places to be colonized.

Thus, the recent announcement that evidence of a lake of water was discovered on Mars has captured the imagination of anyone who has looked at our interplanetary neighbor and dreamed. If this discovery is verified, the possibility of successful human colonies on Mars has just taken a big step forward.

Media reports on the discovery are everywhere, occasionally with florid claims, prompting new speculation on the likelihood that we’ll discover life on Mars and renewing excitement about future manned missions to the Red Planet. So, which of these stories are reasonable and which are hype?

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