We learned only two weeks ago that our closest solar running mate, Mars, was once wet and maybe even ready to procreate. Whatever we learn about life on the cratered planet, the unprecedented reality is that Mars is coming to life on Earth. And it's bringing a big red alert with it. It's been a long time since Mars has had such a high public profile. The ancients, of course, were fascinated by the planets and did much of their own kind of exploring. Numerous systems of astrology and a wealth of mythic matter are mere cultural residue now. But back in the day, the gods or forces that embodied each of the heavenly bodies' energies were called into play by the top decision-makers. For eons, though, it's just been the riffraff like me and maybe you who still like to glance at what the signs are saying.
But with the new cosmic reality-TV broadcast of Mars as seen by Spirit and Opportunity, the heavens are once again moving closer to earth. Sadly, they bring news of a tragedy that transcends anything even the ancient Greeks could have thought of.
Yes, it is now certain that there was a time when liquid water drenched the red planet. Unfortunately, this thrilling new science fact is actually more desolate than any science fiction - because those days are over. The Martian climate was once able to sustain the conditions that water needs to stay in liquid form. Then it changed.
Does anyone else feel little ice crystals forming in their tear ducts at the thought?
This first-hand knowledge of a brother planet raises a second question far more pressing to earthlings than is/was there life on Mars?: how can a whole planet lose its liquid life source?
Important parts of the story are known already. Cold and dry, Mars has an atmosphere so thin that solid, frozen water evaporates directly into a gas rather than melting and staying in a liquid state. How this came to be remains a question, but science sees that Mars's climate couldn't always have been like this or liquid water on its surface wouldn't just be history. Fact is, it takes a delicate balance of nature to remain in the trajectory of flowing water. Imagine the waters stop running.
Look at the timing. Humans get a digital feed to see what bad weather has done to Mars just as we are in the throes of climate change.
Somehow, our planet dances with her shining star, the sun, and drinks in just the right amount of light and dark to teem with self-regeneration.
The ordinary is invisible until it is lost.
The ancients didn't take the climate for granted. Kings laid down their lives if the rain didn't come. The warrior Mars is delivering an aggressive message. Maybe the old ways were right and the personal fates of our present world leaders should rest on how well they do at making our weather work.