mars needs scientists
Reading Time: 2 minutes (Brian Shiro, CC BY-SA 3.0.) The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS). Probably not affiliated with today's study, but very cool all the same.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Hi and welcome back! It’s miserably hot in my house today and I can’t get anything done while I’m this hot, so this won’t be a long post. I just saw this story recently and loved it. Today, let me show you some science news about Mars, and what it says about the progress of science.

mars needs scientists
(Brian Shiro, CC BY-SA 3.0.) The Flashline Mars Arctic Research Station (FMARS). Probably not directly affiliated with today’s study, but very cool all the same. It’s parked in the same area where today’s study took place, Devon Island.

(Previous science posts: Laniakea; Of Gallbladders and Intelligent Design; Creationism (Living and Learning); Ken Ham and the Google Doodle. You might also like this study about birdsong changes.)

Turns Out Mars Wasn’t Like the Fantasy Novels.

For a while, many researchers thought that Mars possessed oceans and a warm atmosphere. They thought that because Mars has features that look like the scarring and erosion caused by water — rivers, rainfall, oceans, etc. So they hypothesized a Mars containing free-flowing water.

Now, though, the prevailing theory has shifted. A recent study discovered that Mars was covered in ice sheets. Some of that ice thawed beneath those sheets, and that water caused the scarring across Mars’ surface. The study’s researchers compared the features on Mars with glacial channels on Devon Island in Canada. It’s a very similar environment to Mars: a freezing cold desert.

These researchers analyzed 10,000 Martian valleys with analytical tools developed by Anna Grau Galofre. They discovered that very few of those features were carved by surface water erosion (free-flowing water). The vast majority looked more like what happens when some water thaws under an ice sheet.

Interestingly, I see that Devon Island also hosted a long-running study called Flashline Mars, thanks to its similarity to that planet’s current state. In the 00s, scientists and journalists lived and worked there to simulate an outpost on Mars. Indeed, Devon Island looks like a veritable hotspot of research activity. It’s hosted a research station since the 1960s.

It amazes me to see how far scientists get by asking questions and then meaningfully testing them. Naturally, this work will also help us analyze the history of Earth’s glaciers.

There are now more questions to ask, more answers to find — and, of course, more ideas to test.

NEXT UP: I needed a little cold news today. Oh my DOG please let my A/C be fixed tomorrow. If so, we get back on track with the silliest question in Atheist Overreach.

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ROLL TO DISBELIEVE "Captain Cassidy" is Cassidy McGillicuddy, a Gen Xer and ex-Pentecostal. (The title is metaphorical.) She writes about the intersection of psychology, belief, popular culture, science,...

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