A decades-old investigation into the possibility of life on Mars – a question even David Bowie was asking during the Seventies – has had one of its most important pre-requisites finally fulfilled: NASA has found evidence of flowing water on Mars. Not ice, not vapour, but actual liquid water.
“There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars,” Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the NASA Mars exploration programme, said. “Because of this, we suspect that it is at least possible to have a habitable environment today.”
NASA’s findings, revealed in science journal Nature Geoscience, explain previously discovered streaks seen running down Martian slopes. The dark marks (above), first discovered in 2010, now appear to be salt deposits from evaporated water, quickly stripped away by the planet’s thin atmosphere. The water itself has not been observed, but its effects are now recognised.
While the source of this water is still unknown, NASA scientists presume that it emerges to the surface of the Red Planet from underground aquifers or ice deposits. “The mystery has been, what is permitting this flow? Presumably water, but until now, there has been no spectral signature,” Meyer added. “From this, we conclude that the RSL are generated by water interacting with percholorates, forming a brine that flows downhill.”
Thank you The Guardian for providing us with this information.