NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope snapped this shot of Mars on Aug. 26, 2003, when the Red Planet was 34.7 million miles from Earth. The picture was taken just 11 hours before Mars made its closest approach to us in 60,000 years. CREDIT: NASA/ESA

This image combining orbital imagery with 3-D modeling shows flows that appear in spring and summer on a slope inside Mars’ Newton crater. CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona

Mars May Be Habitable Today, Scientists Say

Rod Pyle, SPACE.com Contributor
Date: 25 February 2013 Time: 06:30 AM ET

LOS ANGELES — While Mars was likely a more hospitable place in its wetter, warmer past, the Red Planet may still be capable of supporting microbial life today, some scientists say.

Ongoing research in Mars-like places such as Antarctica and Chile’s Atacama Desert shows that microbes can eke out a living in extremely cold and dry environments, several researchers stressed at “The Present-Day Habitability of Mars” conference held here at the University of California Los Angeles this month.

And not all parts of the Red Planet’s surface may be arid currently — at least not all the time. Evidence is building that liquid water might flow seasonally at some Martian sites, potentially providing a haven for life as we know it.

“We certainly can’t rule out the possibility that it’s habitable today,” said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, principal investigator for the HiRise camera aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

Read more: Mars May Be Habitable Today, Scientists Say | Search for Life | Space.com.

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