NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars

General Chat

Found 12 posts - Go to Last Post


Do you think there is intelligent life on Mars?

(You may not vote on this poll)

× 11 (25.00%) Yes

× 33 (75.00%) No


  • Added 09-29-2015 04:33 AM
  • 44 votes

These dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks called recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars are inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water. Recently, planetary scientists detected hydrated salts on these slopes at Hale crater, corroborating their original hypothesis that the streaks are indeed formed by liquid water. The blue color seen upslope of the dark streaks are thought not to be related to their formation, but instead are from the presence of the mineral pyroxene. The image is produced by draping an orthorectified (Infrared-Red-Blue/Green(IRB)) false color image (ESP_030570_1440) on a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the same site produced by High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (University of Arizona). Vertical exaggeration is 1.5.
Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

These downhill flows, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), often have been described as possibly related to liquid water. The new findings of hydrated salts on the slopes point to what that relationship may be to these dark features. The hydrated salts would lower the freezing point of a liquid brine, just as salt on roads here on Earth causes ice and snow to melt more rapidly. Scientists say it’s likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening.

Garni crater on Mars
Dark narrow streaks called recurring slope lineae emanating out of the walls of Garni crater on Mars. The dark streaks here are up to few hundred meters in length. They are hypothesized to be formed by flow of briny liquid water on Mars. The image is produced by draping an orthorectified (RED) image (ESP_031059_1685) on a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the same site produced by High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (University of Arizona). Vertical exaggeration is 1.5.
Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona
Full image and caption

"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 Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, lead author of a report on these findings published Sept. 28 by Nature Geoscience.


Dark narrow streaks called recurring slope lineae emanating out of the walls of Garni crater on Mars. The dark streaks here are up to few hundred meters in length. They are hypothesized to be formed by flow of briny liquid water on Mars. The image is produced by draping an orthorectified (RED) image (ESP_031059_1685) on a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the same site produced by High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (University of Arizona). Vertical exaggeration is 1.5.
Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Ojha first noticed these puzzling features as a University of Arizona undergraduate student in 2010, using images from the MRO's High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE). HiRISE observations now have documented RSL at dozens of sites on Mars. The new study pairs HiRISE observations with mineral mapping by MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM).

The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts at multiple RSL locations, but only when the dark features were relatively wide. When the researchers looked at the same locations and RSL weren't as extensive, they detected no hydrated salt.

Ojha and his co-authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate. Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 70 Celsius). On Earth, naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts, and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant.

Perchlorates have previously been seen on Mars. NASA's Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover both found them in the planet's soil, and some scientists believe that the Viking missions in the 1970s measured signatures of these salts. However, this study of RSL detected perchlorates, now in hydrated form, in different areas than those explored by the landers. This also is the first time perchlorates have been identified from orbit.

MRO has been examining Mars since 2006 with its six science instruments.

"The ability of MRO to observe for multiple Mars years with a payload able to see the fine detail of these features has enabled findings such as these: first identifying the puzzling seasonal streaks and now making a big step towards explaining what they are," said Rich Zurek, MRO project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.

For Ojha, the new findings are more proof that the mysterious lines he first saw darkening Martian slopes five years ago are, indeed, present-day water.

"When most people talk about water on Mars, they're usually talking about ancient water or frozen water," he said. "Now we know there’s more to the story. This is the first spectral detection that unambiguously supports our liquid water-formation hypotheses for RSL."

The discovery is the latest of many breakthroughs by NASA’s Mars missions.

“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.”


This animation simulates a fly-around look at one of the places on Mars where dark streaks advance down slopes during warm seasons, possibly involving liquid water. This site is within Hale Crater. The streaks are roughly the length of a football field.

There are eight co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper, including Mary Beth Wilhelm at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and Georgia Tech; CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; and HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona. Others are at Georgia Tech, the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique in Nantes, France.

The agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Lockheed Martin built the orbiter and collaborates with JPL to operate it.

More information about NASA's journey to Mars is available online at:

https://www.nasa.gov/topics/journeytomars

For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/mro

-end-
09-29-2015 08:25 AM StaffPremium
I vote we send all of the presidential candidates there and reask the question...
Have you joined the soon to be #1 leaderboard on the site? If you ever enjoyed 360voice(or even if you haven't been there), please join:
http://www.gamertagnation.com/leader...aderboard-149/
We live in a world where folks can detect water on far away planets yet still fall for ridiculous Facebook hoaxes. These are strange times indeed Lol
Facebook/Tat2dTrash
Instagram: @tat2dtrash
Twitter: @SG_Steelhead
We live in a world where folks can detect water on far away planets yet still fall for ridiculous Facebook hoaxes. These are strange times indeed Lol
Originally Posted by SG Steelhead
Yeah, it isn't the same people and it has always been like that. Imagine the people during Magellan's time.

"We live in a world where a guy sailed East to go West, and people still think the world is flat. These are strange times indeed."

Now, if the scientist that discovered the water, during the same press conference, added in, "oh, and by the way, I saw on channel 13 (so, you know it's true), that you have to put in your Facebook profile that your pictures and images are yours. Don't just share another person's status, you have to type that shit in yourself."

That would have been mind blowing.
Yeah, it isn't the same people and it has always been like that. Imagine the people during Magellan's time.

"We live in a world where a guy sailed East to go West, and people still think the world is flat. These are strange times indeed."

Now, if the scientist that discovered the water, during the same press conference, added in, "oh, and by the way, I saw on channel 13 (so, you know it's true), that you have to put in your Facebook profile that your pictures and images are yours. Don't just share another person's status, you have to type that shit in yourself."

That would have been mind blowing.
Originally Posted by futiles
Way to suck the funny out of the room, Dwight! Lol
Facebook/Tat2dTrash
Instagram: @tat2dtrash
Twitter: @SG_Steelhead
You forgot the option for "define intelligent"
I study astrophysics and astronomy for fun - this is actually kind of big news for Mars. There's no intelligent life currently on Mars, but I am willing to bet there are some sort of microscopic bactoeria that is thriving, much like the ones here on earth that survive in the underwater thermal vents and the like.

Cool stuff.
09-30-2015 11:23 AM StaffPremium
I study astrophysics and astronomy for fun - this is actually kind of big news for Mars. There's no intelligent life currently on Mars, but I am willing to bet there are some sort of microscopic bactoeria that is thriving, much like the ones here on earth that survive in the underwater thermal vents and the like.

Cool stuff.
Originally Posted by porschephiliac
It's really amazing how much water there is out there, which really increases the chance of life existing even now within our solar system.
Have you joined the soon to be #1 leaderboard on the site? If you ever enjoyed 360voice(or even if you haven't been there), please join:
http://www.gamertagnation.com/leader...aderboard-149/
It's really amazing how much water there is out there, which really increases the chance of life existing even now within our solar system.
Originally Posted by Fshguy
Theres a huge cloud a few million light years away that is just water vapor. There's no discernable land masses, just a giant water cloud in the middle of space - it's gigantic.

The mere thought that we are alone, on a statistical level, is absurd. Considering it would take YEARS travelling at the speed of light to reach our sister star - The Milky Way is over 100 million LY across... so, to reach the other end, travelling at 5.3 trillion MPH, it would still take 100 million years to cross our galaxy, which is one of billions of galaxies in the known visiable universe.

Awesome stuff.
Theres a huge cloud a few million light years away that is just water vapor. There's no discernable land masses, just a giant water cloud in the middle of space - it's gigantic.

The mere thought that we are alone, on a statistical level, is absurd. Considering it would take YEARS travelling at the speed of light to reach our sister star - The Milky Way is over 100 million LY across... so, to reach the other end, travelling at 5.3 trillion MPH, it would still take 100 million years to cross our galaxy, which is one of billions of galaxies in the known visiable universe.

Awesome stuff.
Originally Posted by porschephiliac
That is pretty awesome stuff and speaking of gigantic... I found this. Blew my mind!
Life goal own all retail X-Box games. My collection: X-Box: 535, X-Box 360: 1204, One: 178
Let us get to know you: I want to be on the spotlight 2.0 Join here to enter GTN's monthly Challenge: Challenge, What Challenge...
Yes, we are rather minuscule in the Universal scale, aren't we? There's a few good ones like that out there that really put it in perspective.

Sign up for a new account. It's free and easy!

Sign up for an account

Already have an account? Login here

Login to your account