Liquid Water on Mars


From a Rueter’s Article:

For the first time, NASA has confirmed the existence of liquid water on the surface of Mars, according to new research announced Monday. The finding stems from data and analysis by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) has verified that dark, seasonal streaks that have appeared on Mars’ surface come from briny water flows.

MRO found evidence of narrow channels containing water cut into cliff walls through Mars’ equatorial band, though the source and chemistry of the water is yet unknown. The streaks, or recurring slope lineae, appear during warmer, summer months on the Red Planet. They disappear when the temperature drops.

Scientists had previously run into difficulties analyzing the streaks, which measure less than 16 feet, or 5 meters, wide. The orbiting MRO’s instruments were able to process trace measurements, and scientists successfully observed the findings thanks to a computer program that can focus in on individual pixels. MRO’s data was then compared with high-resolution images of the slopes. Scientists found a match between their locations and the presence of hydrated salts.

Some scientists express reservations, since the findings may have another interpretation, but it is still fascinating.

We tend to forget how much we don’t know. Liquid water on another planet means life as we know it may be possible there.

So far, the evidence of life beyond Earth has been exactly zero, zip, nothing, nada, a situation we science fiction fans find intolerable.