Research

Flowing Water on Mars?

Scientists have known for years that Mars once had liquid water on its surface, and they have many contemporary examples of frozen water ice on the Red Planet. But this week NASA announced the strongest evidence yet that liquid water still flows on Mars. Researchers have observed from orbit dark line-like features called recurring slope lineae (RSL) that develop, darken, and grow seasonally in many locations on Mars. The appearance of these features coincides with warmer surface temperatures (above -23 degrees Celsius), and the lines fade again when temperatures cool. Although scientists suspected the dark lines might be related to flowing water, the evidence remained circumstantial until spectral observations of multiple sites indicated that the darker features contained hydrated salts. In other words, briny salt water is still flowing at or near the Martian surface.  (Image credits: NASA)

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