Could Martian Water Detection Avert War?

Published on April 5th, 2010 | by

Does NASA have an out-of-this-world way to find water and avoid war? With a rising population and increased incidence of drought, water is becoming a scarcer and more valuable resource by the day. Watch a documentary like Blue Gold: World Water Wars or Flow and it becomes crystal clear that water could be a major source of conflict in the future. But this week a NASA scientist proposed that NASA technology used to find water on Mars could do the same on Earth- and possibly prevent future conflict.

Image Credit: ArticleSatellite image of southern Africa
Satellite image of southern Africa

“We (in the region) are best placed to use this technology. Water has no substitute. But still, we’re not looking for it. Water is a resource, like any other resource. And we have seen conflicts over resources.” – Dr. Essam Heggy, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab Scientist to a UN Development Programme-sponsored conference

The equipment is called Marsis and is made up of a 131 foot radar sounder with a 131 foot antenna attached to an orbiter. The Marsis then sent radio waves up to 2.3 miles (3.7km) beneath the surface of Mars. NASA technology used on space probes could potentially be used to find underground water on Earth, the same way a 2007 Mars probe discovered enough frozen water underground to cover the entire planet.

Dr. Heggy also pointed out a disparity that will need to shift- Middle Eastern countries spend the most money on oil discovery and the least on water exploration compared to any other region in the world. The Marsis technology can scan a half-mile beneath For example, NASA scans show 6,000-year-old valleys and lakes far beneath arid regions in Darfur.


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