Liquid Water Found On Mars

Mars has water on its surface, and it’s in liquid form at least some of the time.

NASA on Monday announced the results of a new study showing that salty liquid water flows seasonally on Mars, giving the red planet one of the essential ingredients for life.

The study, published online by Nature Geoscience, focuses on the mysterious recurring slope lineae, or “RSL” — narrow, streaky features on the planet’s surface spotted by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

The RSL are typically about 15 feet in width or smaller, and appear on slopes during the planet’s warm seasons. They fade during cooler seasons, then reappear the following year as the planet gets warmer again.

While NASA has suspected that the RSL are made of salty brine, previous analyses of data from the spacecraft’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer have found neither salt nor water.

The new study, however, is far more detailed.

Researchers led by Lujendra Ojha of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology have found evidence for hydrated salts, likely magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate, according to the study.

Those compounds also lower the freezing point of water, allowing it to flow at much cooler temperatures.

“These soggy streaks suggest that there are vast reserves of underground water, presumably the last remains of lakes that may have once dotted the landscapes of this planet,” said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer and director of the Center for SETI Research, who was not involved in the new study.

“Consequently, if life began billions of years ago during Mars’ more clement youth, its progeny could still be hiding out a few feet underfoot,” he said. “That would make the task —> Read More