It’s a very interesting article, well worth reading the whole thing. Here are some excerpts of what Prof Quine has to say:
“Every time we go there, it’s to answer a question. And inevitably, every question brings forward 10 more,” said Alain Berinstain, the director of the planetary exploration program at the Canadian Space Agency. “That’s why we’re going to send humans to Mars: Because we can’t answer all these questions robotically.”
These are big ones. “Are we alone in the universe?” says Brendan Quine, the director of space engineering at York University, the country’s primary research facility into Martian exploration. “These are profound questions that have far-reaching consequences.”
Quine is associated with a unit called Northern Light, a joint venture between the school and Thoth Technologies, a Canadian aerospace firm. They’re exploring privately funded space exploration (they hope to launch their own, private Martian probe in 2009, for a fraction of the cost of NASA’s $350 million Phoenix mission).
A thick band of hydrogen around the equator indicates water in some form. “We think there are very large reserves of water on Mars, actually,” Quine says.
“There are clear coastlines – multiple coastlines, actually. You can’t say they are until we test them, but they appear to be coastlines. In fact, we think that if we melted all the waters on Mars, we would flood the ocean basins to a depth of 500 metres. Then you’ve got a planet a lot like Earth.”