Welcome to the latest installment of “Writer Fuel – cool real-world stories that might inspire your little writer heart. Check out our Writer Fuel page on the LimFic blog for more inspiration. Today:
Is there water on Mars? The fourth planet from our sun, Mars, is named after the Roman God of War, so dubbed because of its bloody red color, according to NASA. In 1897, novelist H. G. Wells in his book “The War of the Worlds” described that this color was owed to organic red weeds that covered the planet’s surface.
However when Mariner 9, the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, cruised around the red world it revealed an endless landscape of dry, barren desert. In stark contrast to an abundant bounty of weed life, the reality of the Red Planet is a desolate biome covered in iron-rich dust and rocks, according to NASA. But on — and underneath — the rock surfaces, chasms and crevices of this world there is a compelling mystery. The more scientists look, the more they find evidence of water on Mars, or at least that water may once have been abundant on Mars; and some think that liquid water is still there.
Water is considered integral to the origin of life on Earth. As such, when exploring the Martian world, NASA adopted a similar strategy to Earth colonists exploring new lands and opted to “follow the water.” Looking at the dry and barren surface, this strategy may appear misguided. But today’s appearance doesn’t mean the world was always this way. Mars is a cold planet, being 1.5 times as distant from the sun as Earth, according to NASA. It is also smaller than Earth and thus supports less gravity, meaning Mars now retains a thin atmosphere.