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Buzz Aldrin: Water on Mars Is Another Small Step for Humankind

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Dr. Buzz Aldrin served as lunar module pilot for Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing mission. He is the author of eight books, including his New York Times best selling autobiography Magnificent Desolation. His newest book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, was published in 2013. As one of the leading space exploration advocates, Buzz continues to chart a course for future space travel. He is an unpaid advisory board member for XCOR Space Expeditions.

For future Martians there was great news this week.

Mars researchers revealed the strongest evidence yet that liquid water is flowing on the Red Planet. That prospect can help sustain humanity’s presence there and establish a growing settlement on that world.

Water is the elixir of life. And using this vital resource further bolsters my plan to establish Cycling Pathways to Occupy Mars.

So the good news is that there’s water.

But the bad news is that it’s poisonous water.

The running water on Mars is briny, rather than pure, and loaded with deadly perchlorates. Nevertheless, the treatment and processing of that water—as well as making use of subsurface reservoirs of ice and tapping possible underground aquifers—that all adds up to the ability of humans to live off the land: Marsland.

A water supply on Mars could enable the growing of vegetation and edible foods, and perhaps the cultivation of protein-rich fish.

See Mysterious Photos of Water on the Surface of Mars

Recurring slope lineae (RSL) are a type of dark streak seen on Martian slopes and are thought to form from flow of liquid water. This image shows RSL in the Aram Chaos, acquired on Jan. 11, 2015.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
This image shows the central peak in Porter Crater, acquired on April 17, 2015.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
RSL may be due to active seeps of water. These dark flows are abundant along the steep slopes of ancient bedrock in Coprates Chasma. Acquired on Dec. 31, 2013. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Ravines (or very large gullies) are actively forming on Mars during the coldest times of year, when carbon dioxide frost aids mass wasting. In this image, acquired on March 25, 2015, we see warm-season flows in cold-season ravines.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
An image of the southeast rim of Hale crater, acquired on Nov. 13, 2014NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
This RSL is one of the most active sites known on Mars in the central peaks of Hale Crater, acquired on Feb. 20, 2015. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
A RSL in Raga Crate, acquired on Feb. 9, 2015.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
A surprise landslump in Melas Chasma, acquired on Jan. 15, 2014.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
An image of the southeast rim of Hale crater, acquired on Nov. 13, 2014.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
This image was acquired in southern winter over part of Asimov Crater, on March 15, 2014, showing the equator-facing slope of a deep trough inside the crater. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
RSL along Coprates Chasma Ridge, acquired on July 7, 2013.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Seasonal flows on Palikir Crater, a warm Martian slopes, that may be caused by the flow of salty water on Mars. Acquired on March 15, 2013NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
RSL in Juventae Chasma, acquired on Jan. 18, 2013.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
This image displays a site along a Coprates Chasma ridge shows RSL on generally north-facing slopes, acquired on Oct. 20, 2012.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Right past the sharp, but warped rim of this ancient impact crater are deposits of winter frost, which show up as blue in enhanced color. Acquired on July 16, 2012.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Slope features seen on a wall in Newton crater acquired on May 30, 2011.NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

So this revelation about water and the Red Planet makes a lot of things possible. Furthermore, I’m positive that other exciting findings about Mars are in the offing. One of which is that, perhaps, the planet is today an extraterrestrial address for microbial life.

The evidence of water on the surface of Mars has many implications. In fact, the finding is a wellspring, a gusher of good news to make possible the creation of a permanent settlement outpost on the Red Planet.

Still, back here on Earth, we need to face the ebb and flow of politics and budgets. It’s time to rebuild and sustain America’s space program that makes the vision of our future on Mars valid.

No dream is too high for those with their eyes in the sky!

Buzz Aldrin, best known for his Apollo 11 moonwalk, holds a doctoral degree in astronautics and continues to wield influence as an international advocate of space science and planetary exploration. Aldrin and co-author, Leonard David, wrote Mission to Mars – My Vision for Space Exploration, published in 2013 by the National Geographic Society. Aldrin’s new children’s book, Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet, co-authored with Marianne Dyson, was published in this month.

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