SCIENCE
09/30/2015 10:57 am ET Updated Sep 30, 2015

Why Bill Nye Is So Pumped About The Mars Water Discovery

"If we were to discover evidence of ancient life, or stranger still, something living there now...it would change the way every one of us feels about being alive."

Bill Nye is positively gushing about the recent discovery of liquid water on Mars--not so much about the water itself but about what its presence means for the chances that the red planet harbors life.

"With salty water flowing every Martian year, it is very reasonable that there is something alive there, or still alive from when Mars was a very wet world," America's beloved "Science Guy" told The Huffington Post in an email. "If we were to discover evidence of ancient life, or stranger still, something living there now, some sort of Martian microbe, or 'marscrobe,' it would change the way every one of us feels about being alive, about being a living thing in the cosmos."

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The dark streaks in this image are known as "recurring slope lineae" on the surface of Mars, and they are believed to be evid
NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
The dark streaks in this image are known as "recurring slope lineae" on the surface of Mars, and they are believed to be evidence of flowing water.

Mars is believed to have had a vast ocean some 4.3 billion years ago, and scientists have long known that Mars today has frozen water at its polar regions and perhaps under its surface.

But evidence for the presence of liquid water--essential for life as we know it--was confirmed only on Sept. 28, 2015. That's when NASA held a press briefing to announce the results of new research showing that mysterious dark streaks seen on the sloping sides of certain craters on the Martian surface are evidence of flowing water.

The water associated with the streaks is believed to be extremely salty. Some scientists regard it as too salty to support microbial life, the New York Times reported.

"But if we do find living marscrobes," Nye, CEO of The Planetary Society, wondered in the email, "do they have DNA like us? Or is it a completely different type of life?"

To answer questions like those, NASA might need to send astronauts to Mars for an up-close look, according to Time. In any case, Nye continued, "It is certainly worth 0.036 percent of the federal budget to investigate," a reference to the tiny portion of the budget devoted to planetary exploration.

Nuff said.

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