Scientists have discovered signs of water on Mars, which adds to the speculation that life could survive on the planet. NASA discussed the discovery Monday morning.
NASA says the new findings published Monday “provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars,” the agency said in a statement.
NASA announced that by using an imaging spectrometer on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), researchers were able to detect “signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet.” The dark streaks ebb and flow over time and change during different seasons. The downward flows have been thought in the past to relate to liquid water.
It’s long been thought that Mars had bodies of water that are now frozen, the New York Times reports. In the new study, researchers were able to identify signs of hydrated salts at multiple locations, which suggests some sort of presence of liquid water. “Mars is not the dry arid planet that we through of in the past,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters. “Under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found on Mars.”
“We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” said lead study author Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in a statement. Ojha’s report was published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The briefing includes a question-and-answer session, and the public can send in their own questions over social media using the hashtag #AskNASA.