by John Grant/Smithsonianmag.com
“Is there life on Mars?” is a question people have asked for more than a century. But in order to finally get the answer, we have to know what to look for and where to go on the planet to look for evidence of past life. With the successful landing of the Perseverance rover on Mars on February 18, 2021, we are finally in a position to know where to go, what to look for, and knowing whether there is, or ever was, life on the Red Planet.
Science fiction aside, we know that there were not ancient civilizations or a population of little green people on Mars. So, what sort of things do we need to look for to know whether there was ever life on Mars? Fortunately, a robust Mars exploration program, including orbiters, landers, and rovers, has enabled detailed mapping of the planet and constrained important information about the environment.
We now know that there were times in the ancient past on Mars when conditions were wetter and at least a little warmer than the fairly inhospitable conditions that are present today. And there were once habitable environments that existed on the surface…… Read More: