Is there life on Mars? It’s a question mankind has been asking at least since David Bowie sang about it in the early ’70s. One precondition for life on Mars is a source of water that can act as an incubator for living creatures — and now NASA thinks it’s found its strongest evidence yet that there’s “flowing liquid water” on Mars.
Per CNBC, NASA on Monday announced that its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had discovered evidence of “hydrated minerals” that have formed streaks across Mars’s surface. These minerals, called perchlorates, are apparently able to keep water from freezing over in insanely cold temperatures of up to -94 degrees Fahrenheit.
“Something is hydrating these salts, and it appears to be these streaks that come and go with the seasons,” explained Lujendra Ojha, a researcher at the Georgia Institute of Technology who is helping NASA on this project. “This means the water on Mars is briny, rather than pure. It makes sense, because salts lower the freezing point of water. Even if RSL are slightly underground, where it’s even colder than the surface temperature, the salts would keep the water in a liquid form and allow it to creep down Martian slopes.”
At any rate, this discovery is a lot more exciting than the grainy picture of a supposed Martian woman that had UFOlogists freaking out recently. The researchers’ full analysis of this new discovery is going to be published in the Nature Geoscience journal in the near future.
In case you’re interested, NASA is broadcasting a live stream talking about this major breakthrough — check it out below.