BREAKING: Present-Day Running Water on Mars Confirmed!
Present-Day Running Water on Mars Confirmed
As the European Planetary Science Congress 2015 (EPSC) prepares to start in Nantes, France, today, it quietly carries news that NASA may shout tomorrow at the Mars press briefing: present-day water flow has been confirmed on Mars!
An abstract from the conference proceedings by Lujendra Ojha et al confirms spectral evidence for hydrated salts–briny, salty water–in four different locations on Mars. This work has been ongoing, and has been documented throughout its study by NASA. The dark, seasonal streaks, frequently growing on the warmer slopes of Martian craters, were long thought to possibly indicate water flowing, or seeping, to the surface of the planet. Now, it appears that that hypothesis has been confirmed.
Much speculation about life on Mars (and other planets) revolves around the presence of liquid water. If temperatures and geologic activity provide enough warmth, even isolated pockets of subsurface water could be warm enough to provide a suitable environment for life. The confirmation of water on Mars, and that it flows in the present day, is very exciting. What could these salty flows contain? Could microorganisms be thriving below the surface of Mars, warmed by seasonal Sun and geologic activity?
Much more work should spring from this. As Dr. James Wray reminds us all, this is an ongoing exploration, with much to be learned about even the weather on Mars:
“NASA likes to ‘follow the water’ in exploring the Red Planet, so we’d like to know in advance when and where it will appear,” Wray said. “RSL have rekindled our hope of accessing modern water, but forecasting wet conditions remains a challenge.”
Tomorrow, we learn something important about Mars. Perhaps it is this, amazing in itself. Perhaps NASA has another surprise in store?
What do you think about the discovery of flowing water on Mars? What does it mean for life, Martian and human?
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*Thanks to Austin Braun (@Braun23Austin on Twitter) for the lead that led to this story.