3D Mars North Pole, courtesy of NASA. The polar cap is composed primarily of water ice, with a volume of 300,000 cubic miles (1.2 million cubic kilometers). The cap has an average thickness of 0.64 miles (1.03 kilometers) and covers an area 1.5 times the size of Texas.
Interest in Mars shifted in 1877 when Giovanni V. Schiaparelli began to map and name areas of Mars. He saw channels on Mars which he names "canali" which was mistranslated into "canals" implying intelligent life on Mars.
Mars is full of water signs. Besides the visible "ice" on the Poles, we see carved gullies indicating rivers of the past, thin clouds of H2O/ CO2 crystals, craters which at some time may have contained water. Guver Crater is now being explored by the rover Spirit because there are signs indicating that at one time it may have been a lake. There is further evidence that the Martian ice is moving over time in conjunction with the planet's changing inclination which warms parts of Mars parts and cools other areas of Mar's surface.
How much water is there on Mars?
"Using instruments on NASA's 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, surprised scientists have found enormous quantities of buried treasure lying just under the surface of Mars-enough water ice to fill Lake Michigan twice over. And that may just be the tip of the iceberg." (uanews: Odyssey Abundant Water Ice under Mars) We know that on earth wherever there is water there is life so NASA strategy is "Follow the water". Steven Squyres says that this mission helps us "address really fundamental questions of who we are, where we came from, by which I mean we can learn how life came about." In another word, is life a universal phenomenon in the universe, is matter created for the advent of life or are we alone in this vast universe.
Of course most us know who we are, intelligent creatures made in God's image and that we came from the creative power of our loving God. But, how all this came about and is continuing to evolve is left for science to explore. The cosmic panorama of Creation is far greater than we can see or imagine and many mysteries are hidden from our eyes. In humility we must bow our heads and listen to God's admonition not to be proud,
"Where were you when I founded the earth?
Tell me if you have understanding. ...
While the morning stars sang in chorus
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
If we discover the beginning of life on Mars to be independent from that of Earth, this would open up the whole cosmos to many intelligent life forms each in its unique way giving glory to God.
Christ and Cosmos