NASA: New Evidence Confirms Water Flows On Mars, Boosts Hope Of Life There
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Monday they have found evidence that liquid water flows on the surface of our closest planetary neighbor, a potential breakthrough in hopes that humans may one day be able to inhabit the desolate, red planet.
“The existence of liquid water, even if it is super salty, briny water, gives the possibility that if there’s life on Mars, that we have a way to describe how it might survive,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA.
While the news is easily historic, researchers are not ready to conclude that life exists – or did exist – on the planet.
Researcher Mary Beth Wilhelm said the results suggest “more habitable conditions on the near surface of Mars than previously thought,” but it remains to be seen whether life currently exists on Mars and if the liquid water is sufficient to harbor microbes to cling to existence.
The discovery was made by NASA researchers using an imager aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to study “light waves returned from seasonal dark streaks on the surface,” according to CNN. You can see the “dark streaks” in the images above.
Researchers found the dark streaks absorb light at specific wavelengths associated with chemicals on the planet’s surface, according to Georgia Tech doctoral student Lujendra Ojha, who first discovered the dark streaks as an undergraduate student in 2011.
The chemicals on the surface allow the water to remain liquid at lower temperatures and also help keep it from boiling off in the thin atmosphere.
Along with increasing the chances of life on Mars, the discovery may help scientists in their search for life outside of our solar system.