Could Mars Support Life?
ESU701  Liquid Water: A Key Factor

Wherever life is found on Earth, even in extreme environments, liquid water is present. The current environment on Mars might be described as a frozen desert, but it is possible that its extreme environment could be capable of supporting life.

The search for life on Mars has been focused on finding places that show evidence of flowing water. As water flows over Earth's surface, it carves distinctive features, such as valleys, channels, and canyons. Layers of sediments indicate deposition in water. In searching for likely places to find life on Mars, researchers look for areas with these types of features.

  !   Click either image to see a larger version. Carefully examine the features formed by flowing water on each planet.

NASA/JPL/Malin Space Systems/USGS
Structures produced by flowing water on Mars and on Earth.

  !   Follow these links to compare other features. Note: Each Web site will open in a new browser window. After you examine the images, close the extra windows to return to this investigation. Compare:

Valles Marineris on Mars with the Grand Canyon on Earth
Water-Formed Features of Mars with Water-Formed Features of Earth

6. What similarities do you see between the features on Mars and those formed by flowing water on Earth?


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