NASA scientists have revealed that flowing, salty water has been discovered on Mars – at least during the planet’s summertime.
Researchers at a press conference on Tuesday said the discovery doesn’t confirm the possibility of life, whether past or present, actually exists there. However, it does dramatically boost hopes that microbes could cling to the ancient surface to create life.
“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.
The possibility of water on the Red Planet has been known for years, with pictures taken over time showing changes to the planet’s surface. But now, strong evidence confirms the discovery thanks to an imager aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. By looking at light waves returned from dark seasonal streaks on the surface, the results show it is liquid water.
During a Reddit ‘Ask Me Anything’, scientists from the NASA Mars Program Office disclosed more information about the water announcement.
When questioned about the volume of water that has been discovered on Mars’ surface, Deputy Project Scientist Leslie K. Tamppari, said the water flowing is like dripping tap water.
“We think this is a very small amount of water — maybe just enough to wet the top layer of the surface of Mars. The streaks are ~4-5 meters wide and ~200-300 meters long,” he said.
The new means we are another step closer to finding life beyond Earth and perhaps one day visit the planet that has intrigued us for decades.