Quantcast

Groundbreaking NASA Announcement: Evidence of Liquid Water on Mars

Science

In a major scientific announcement, NASA has found evidence of liquid water on present-day Mars.

"Mars is not the dry, arid planet that we thought of in the past," said Jim Green, NASA Planetary Science Director, in a press conference. "Under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found on Mars."

For about a week, NASA kept this "major Mars mystery" a secret from the public. And today, millions of viewers tuned into the space agency's live-streamed announcement, and even fueling speculation that there could be (or was) life on the Red Planet, as water is essential to life.

“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,” Grunsfeld continued.

The findings come from an imaging spectrometer on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has been roving the planet since 2006.

Scientists have long theorized that water, in the form of trapped ice, was already present on the Martian planet. "Though young Mars was inundated by rivers, lakes and maybe even an ocean a few billion years ago, the modern moisture is modest. Scientists have long known that large amounts of water remain—but frozen solid in the polar ice caps. There have been fleeting hints of recent liquid water, like fresh-looking gullies, but none have proved convincing," the New York Times reported.

But with today's announcement, it now appears that the dark streaks seen on the planet are actually patches of freshly hydrated salts, which are formed by flowing water that has evaporated off the Martian surface.

“That’s a direct detection of water in the form of hydration of salts," Dr. Alfred S. McEwen, a professor of planetary geology at the University of Arizona and the principal investigator of images from the MRO, told the New York Times. “There pretty much has to have been liquid water recently present to produce the hydrated salt.”

NASA explained that the darkish streaks appear to "ebb and flow over time," adding that 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," NASA said.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Stunning NASA Photos Reveal Sun, Moon and Pluto Up Close

Watch NASA Explain Why We Should All Be Worried About Greenland’s Melting Ice Sheet

Move Over Stonehenge, Scientists Just Discovered ‘Super-Henge’ Which Is 12 Times Bigger

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Record flood water levels in Venice hit again on Sunday making this the worst week of flooding in the city in over 50 years.

Read More Show Less

By Brian Barth

Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
(L) 3D graphical representation of a spherical-shaped, measles virus particle that is studded with glycoprotein tubercles.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC

The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.

Read More Show Less
Austin Nuñez is Chairman of the Tohono O'odham Nation, which joined with the Hopi and Pascua Yaqui Tribes to fight a proposed open-pit copper mine on sacred sites in Arizona. Mamta Popat

By Alison Cagle

Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
The Navajo Nation has suffered from limited freshwater resources as a result of climate, insufficient infrastructure, and contamination. They collaborated with NASA to develop the Drought Severity Evaluation Tool. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.

Read More Show Less
Wild Exmoor ponies graze on a meadow in the Czech Republic. rapier / iStock / Getty Images Plus

By Nanticha Ocharoenchai

In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.

Read More Show Less

Despite huge strides in improving the lives of children since 1989, many of the world's poorest are being left behind, the United Nations children's fund UNICEF warned Monday.

Read More Show Less