Martian Ground Truth Sought on Dark Dunes Astrobiology Magazine

Are dark spots that appear near the south pole of Mars in early spring, a sign of life on the Red Planet? No one can say for sure, according to a group of scientists who met at ESTEC, ESA’s technical center in the Netherlands. Indeed ever since Mars watcher, Percival Lowell, mistook the chiselled images from his telescope as Martian ‘canals’, a certain skepticism has greeted fresh claims about purely visual evidence of unusual activity on the Red Planet. But as Lowell himself wrote from Flagstaff, Arizona in 1895, there is much more to the Mars habitability question than can be answered astronomically: “If Mars be capable of supporting life, there must be water upon his surface; for, to all forms of life, water is as vital a matter as air. On the question of habitability, therefore, it becomes all-important to know whether there be water on Mars.”