NASA has confirmed that flowing liquid water does exist on Mars. This is very big news, and this shows that liquid water is present on the planet, and the implications are huge.
In recent years, Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has shown images of long dark streaks on the walls of a crater that were suspected to be from liquid water flows. However, people were skeptical, since it could have been a landslide instead. But now, there is direct evidence that these streaks are hydrated salts. The salts, or perchlorates, have been previously detected by landers, such as Viking and Phoenix. However, this is the first time that hydrated perchlorates have been detected. That means that it was wet. Liquid water. This briny water can exist in liquid form at temperatures below freezing. The streaks disappear as temperatures get colder, but appear during warmer weather.
This is really big. This means that there is flowing liquid water now on Mars. This kind of water is present on Earth in deserts, and it does support life. It’s very possible that life can exist on Mars today. It doesn’t mean that life does exist now, but we now know that it is likely to be able to support microbial life. Now we just have to examine these areas.
I don’t know about you, but I am very excited about this. This has been an amazing year for planetary science (just a recap: landing on and orbiting a comet, orbiting Ceres, Pluto flyby, Enceladus confirmed to have global liquid water ocean, Mars has liquid water). What can we expect next?
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