News of a lake of water deep below surface of Mars draws only yawns


Illustration by Michael Edwards envisioning water on Mars.

Joseph Craker, Staff Writer

This past month has played host to an amazing discovery of a lake deep below the surface of Mars.  While astronomers in particular would argue that this is an extremely important and unique discovery, everyone else is sick of it.

At first I thought that I might have been misremembering a previous Martian water discovery, but after a quick Google search, sure enough, the first result is “Chronology of discoveries of water on Mars.” 

This Wikipedia article almost satirically goes on to list numerous instances of this “discovery,” and for every instance, several articles can be found that have a title similar to this article’s.

Past findings include everything from evidence of river valleys on the surface to mineral deposits in low-lying regions.  While fascinating in and of themselves, the sum of their parts all have one thing in common, a “discovery,” rather than a confirmation of what researchers should have known to be true from the previous research done.

The articles surrounding this most recent discovery seem promising at first glance, but dig a little deeper and you will run into the uncertainties associated with such findings.  Furthermore, they are full of justifications by the research teams, with defensive quotes such as this one from professor Roberto Orosei: “This really qualifies this as a body of water, a lake, not just some kind of melt water.…”  As the reader continues, however, this lake seems to be little more than a large underground puddle no more than a yard deep.

After decades of researchers effectively crying wolf and claiming the discovery for themselves, people have become rather desensitized to it all. Through no fault of their own, these findings seem unremarkable at this point when compared to how things were done in the past.

Take, for instance, the 1969 Moon landing. Older generations look back upon this phenomenal achievement with fondness and pride. They remember the camaraderie and American spirit surrounding such an occasion, the feeling of sheer joy swelling within just about everyone.

Today, people seem unable to remember the exact circumstances behind the last discovery of water on Mars, and these instances have become sort of a Groundhog Day for the average Joe. 

The “wow” factor has long since been replaced by a feeling of skepticism and disinterest.  Until researchers can bring a literal vial of water back with them from Mars, it is probably to the benefit of future space exploration that no one go crazy about any more “discoveries.”