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Early Mars missions failed to find life on the Red Planet, so the focus shifted to finding evidence for water.
As high resolution photographs taken by orbital reconnaissance craft and rovers such as Opportunity showed evidence that Mars may have once had liquid water, the effort to look for evidence of life the water may have spawned has intensified. After all, we could sum up an article of evolutionary faith with the statement, “And the water ‘said,’ let there be life.”
Recent research has suggested that Mars may actually be a fairly target-rich environment as the search for the past presence of water and associated evidence of past life go on. For instance, in January a Brown University team published an analysis of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter photographs of two heavily cratered regions. They suggest ridges visible in the photos were likely formed by water flowing beneath the surface. “This gives us a point of observation to say there was enough fracturing and fluid flow in the crust to sustain at least a regionally viable subsurface hydrology,” Lee Saper said of his analysis. “The overarching theme of NASA’s planetary exploration has been to follow the water. So if in fact these fractures that turned into these ridges were flowing with hydrothermal fluid, they could have been a viable biosphere.”1
McLaughlin Crater is another likely candidate, according to geochemist John Parnell and planetary geologist Joseph Michalski. In a paper also published in January, they point out that craters are probably the most promising places to search. In craters the meteorites have already done the work of drilling deeply into the Martian surface, sometimes tossing rocks that may have been affected by subsurface water into the bottom of the hole. Like the Brown University team, Parnell and Michalski have examined high-resolution photographs. They report evidence of geologic layers and debris flow that are strong evidence, in their estimation, of “groundwater upwelling.” They therefore recommend McLaughlin Crater as a future high priority destination for direct examination.2
“We could be so close to discovering if there is, or was, life on Mars,” says Parnell. “We know from studies that a substantial proportion of all life on Earth is also in the subsurface and by studying the McLaughlin Crater we can see similar conditions beneath the surface of Mars thanks to observations on the rocks brought up by the meteorite strike. There can be no life on the surface of Mars because it is bathed in radiation and it's completely frozen. However, life in the sub surface would be protected from that. And there is no reason why there isn't bacteria or other microbes that were or still are living in the small cracks well below the surface of Mars.”3
Meanwhile, Mars rover Curiosity has reached the lowest point in Gale Crater and is about to begin drilling. Detouring temporarily from the planned visit to examine sedimentary rocks at the base of Mount Sharp, the rover’s earth-bound support team considers the site, called Yellowknife Bay, a “candy store” of targets. They expect to find a variety of hydrated minerals—minerals that have incorporated water molecules within their chemical structure. Preliminary investigations have revealed mineral-filled veins that are ordinarily only deposited by underground water.
The likelihood that Mars once had a different environment allowing the presence of liquid water does nothing to support the idea that our solar system formed billions of years ago. The belief that life evolved on earth is also based on unverifiable assumptions. If evidence of microbial life—past or present—on Mars is eventually found, evolutionists will of course claim that life proves evolution happened. But in reality, such a finding would simply be evidence that life is (or once was) there, not a demonstration of that life’s origins. The Bible does not say whether God created life on any other planets, but the Bible does tell us God created all life on earth during the first six days of Creation week, the same week in which He created the rest of the universe, about 6,000 years ago. Discovery of evidence of water and even life on Mars would not disprove or undermine that biblical truth.
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