NASA Found Liquid Flowing Water on Mars

 

Curiosity Rover

Curiosity Rover, photos  credited to NASA

By Nancy MonsayNASA just received key evidence about potential life on Mars with its recent discovery of a life-sustaining resource on the red planet: water.

According to NASA’s website, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter provided the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows on Mars occasionally depending on time of day, temperature and season. The Orbiter caught pictures that provide evidence of this.

“These dark narrow 100-meter-long streaks called recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars are inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water,” stated in a press release dated Sept. 28, 2015 from NASA.

Noted in the press release, “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,” said Lujendra Ojha, lead author of a report on these findings published Sept. 28 by Nature Geoscience. “In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks.”

“NASA found evidence that there had been water on the surface in the past,” said Dr. Andrew Kerr, planetarium manager of College of Southern Nevada. “The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on pass-overs has noticed that the slopes were changing color. It looked like water was mainly flowing down the slopes.”

Perspective_6.0

What is relevant about these findings is that Mars and Earth may be much more similar than we knew before. Evidence from Mars missions suggested that ancient Mars may have been much warmer and wetter than it is today. With the right environment life may have thrived on Mars.

According to NASA, Mars missions have been active since 2001 and include the following explorations: Mars Odyssey, Mars Express, Mars Exploration Rovers, MAVEN, Mars Phoenix Lander and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, among others. They were designed to “Follow the Water,” a theme that NASA missions have pursued to hunt for signs of water.

Dr. Stephanie Fiorenza, astronomy professor at CSN, was not entirely surprised by the discovery. She mentioned that Mars Phoenix Lander, which landed on Mars in 2008, had confirmed past evidence of presence of sub-surface water ice.

converted PNM file

converted PNM file

Based on what has been found, the next steps will include searches for evidence of life itself. Places with water and the right chemistry needed for life could potentially provide habitable environments on Mars.

NASA wrote that The Mars Science Laboratory mission and its Curiosity Rover mark a transition between the themes of “Follow the Water” and “Seek Signs of Life.”

According to Harold Nations, CSN astronomy professor, “Curiosity Rover has been on Mars for about two years now and has actually sampled these chemicals on Mars. But this is the first time that the team is in orbit and the first time that water molecules have been associated.”

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