Mars: NASA finds current signs of liquid water

nasa mars water photo by NASA-JPL-Uni-Arizona
Image by NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Science! Are we actually one step closer to having a real-life Total Recall? Perhaps Matt Damon being stranded on Mars isn’t a bad thing? We’re not quite there yet, but Nasa has revealed today that there are signs of flowing water on the surface of present-day Mars. The findings were made possible by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a spacecraft that launched in 2005 and is currently orbiting around Mars.

NASA says that there’s evidence of hydrated minerals on slopes where the “mysterious streaks” are. The dark streaks flow during the warm seasons (above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit) and disappear when they get cooler.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

Scientists are saying that it’s a “shallow subsurface flow,” with the darkening of the flow caused by water being absorbed by the surface. The slope contains hydrated salts that would melt liquid brine, and it’s a big indicator that water is at play.

“We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” said Lujendra Ojha (Georgia Tech), Nature Geoscience’s lead author of the water report.

With the discovery of water, let’s hope we can find more cool items on Mars. Perhaps signs of Transformers? Or Promethean technology? (For you Mass Effect fans out there.)

Source: NASA

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