Georgia Tech scientists play crucial role in confirming flowing water on MarsPhotograph of Mars taken by the Hubble Space Telescope during opposition in 2003. Photo in the public domain, obtained via Wikimedia Commons
Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have helped NASA to prove what has long been suspected about Earth’s neighbor, Mars.
There is, in fact, water flowing on the red planet.
And where there is flowing water, there could be life.
NASA made the bombshell announcement on Monday, Sept. 28, according to ABC. The news network says water exists in both frozen and liquid form on the planet. A study led by Georgia Tech scientists provided the crucial evidence needed to confirm the presence of flowing water on Mars.
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According to a press release from Georgia Tech, “Using instruments on board NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), researchers measured spectral signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious, possibly water-related streaks are found on the red planet. These streaks, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL), form and snake down the planet’s steep slopes during warm seasons when temperatures exceed -10 degrees Fahrenheit (-23 degrees Celsius). They disappear at colder times during the Martian year.”
The press release says that Ph.D. candidate Lujendra Ojha observed the streaks on high resolution images of the planet. Ojha noticed the streaks appeared to disappear at other times of the year.
“Something is hydrating these salts, and it appears to be these streaks that come and go with the seasons,” Ojha said in the press release. “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.”
To read the full press release from Georgia Tech, click here.