Home / Columns / Weekly Weird: Water found on Mars

Weekly Weird: Water found on Mars

Dark narrow streaks emanate from the walls of Garni crater on Mars. A new study makes the case that they were formed by briny water flowing on the Martian surface. (NASA/JPL/University of Arizona)

Written by Julia Rodriquez, Staff Writer

For a long time the thought of life inhabiting another planet seemed like complete science fiction. But NASA is hoping to turn this concept into reality.

NASA announced on Sept. 28 that there is water flowing on Mars.  In the ongoing search for life outside of Earth, NASA has focused on Mars, because it is the most similar planet to Earth within our solar system.  The first step to finding life is to find water. Past discoveries have led scientists to believe that water was once on Mars, but latest evidence is showing that there is liquid water there now.

Using their Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, NASA has discovered dark streaks on certain slopes of the Red Planet.  Over time these dark streaks mysteriously change.  The streaks are prominent in the warm seasons and vanish during the cold seasons.  NASA has come to the conclusion that theses streaks are caused by flowing water.

On these slopes is salt, which is why the water can flow.  Mars is cold, but areas above negative 10 degrees are being considered warm.  Being that the water has salt in it, the freezing point is lowered so that it is not frozen.

These streaks were first discovered in 2010 and the salts were first discovered in the 1970’s.  Scientists had to study the cycle of these streaks over a long period of time to see when and why they appear and explain the hydrated salts.  Over the last few years, studying these streaks along with the minerals has led to the conclusion that there is flowing water.

There may be flowing water, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they can be found in large rivers and streams on the planet.  NASA’s scientists say that it is likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening.

With this discovery, NASA has taken the next step towards finding life off Earth.  Now it is a question of how they will further their research and what is to come next.  There is still a lot to discover about the Red Planet.


Check Also

Austin’s Angles: Has conference realignment gone too far? 

I’m sure every college sports fan at this point is well aware of the ongoing ...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *