Playa del Mars

December 10, 2006

After you pack up the kids and the dog again and pull out from the lunar way station, it's a long way to the beach. But it might be worth it - a satellite in orbit around the planet Mars found fresh evidence of liquid water, in the form of deposits along a gully that weren't there a few years earlier. Scientists speculate that there may be underground water in a slushy if not a sparkling spring-like form, and that from time to time it may burst into the open.

This discovery, reported last week in the journal Science, immediately got some people thinking about the possibility of life on the Red Planet - probably something bacterial or algal (and certainly slimy).

But, scientists that they are, they're not seeing the big picture. You know who is. You can already sense the antennae tingling on the heads of thousands of Earthbound real estate developers. Waterfront property! Everybody's going to want it once they get there, and somebody's got to sell it.

It's going to require a few amenities to help it move, though. Some non-native palms - absolutely. A boardwalk - maybe; it's a taste and class thing. Groins and jetties and causeways to channel the water and make it fun, courtesy of the Army Corps of Engineers - a must. Draining the places with the slimy stuff to make room for taffy shops and T-shirt customizers and taco shops - now we're cookin'. A nature preserve - sure, within bounds.

On the theory that a Martian can't be much more intelligent, or much more capable, than a horseshoe crab, it would seem there's no downside to this. Of course, it's cold out there, but if we can perfect global warming on one planet, why not on another? The pressure's a problem, too; every time that water gets to the surface, it boils off, even though it's not hot. But, then again, who knows pressure better than a real estate developer?

The big question, we suppose, is whether there's actually enough water on Mars to handle the lawn irrigation and septic demands of a really successful resort colony. That could be the stumper. What about Jupiter?

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