In a breakthrough revelation, NASA scientists on 28 September 2015 made the announcement that potentially life-giving water still flows on Mars. It is certainly a breakthrough to understand how life can thrive on the planet and whether humans can hope to travel there.
The discovery doesn’t offer evidence that life existed in Mars before but it does present a hope that even within the harsh landscape, there is a refuge for microbes.
The NASA Science Mission Directorate associate administrator, John Grunsfeld said: “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”.
The scientists confirmed the presence of water using the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter imager, by analysing the flow of light waves which showed seasonal dark streaks, long suspected to be a signal for liquid water. These streaks were discovered in 2011 by Lujendra Ojha, who was then the undergraduate student at the University of Arizona.
The origin of water is unclear. Scientists suggest the existence of a liquid-water aquifer, melting sub-surface ice or even deliquescence. The new findings will be presented at the European Science Congress in France.
The knowledge of water’s existence on Mars isn’t new. For many years, scientists have been aware of the presence of frozen water at its poles, its thin atmosphere and puddles of ‘water’ that form at night.
Mary Beth Wilhelm suggest that the new discovery will create “more habitable conditions on the near surface of Mars than previously thought”.
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