Scientists discovered dark streaks inside the canyons photographed by the Curiosity Rover on Mars, which might just as well hide liquid water.
NASA published a set of photos displaying the dark shades inside Mars’ surface crests. The Valles Marineris canyon, where the images were taken, has a length of 2.5 miles and a depth of 23,000 feet.
Curiosity Rover is now on Mount Sharp inside the Gale Crater, and the team of scientists that coordinate the mission wants to send it even further away in exploration. The dark slopes just discovered in Valles Marineris are believed to be a sign that liquid water may exist on Mars after all.
Liquid water brings the possibility of finding life forms on the planet. Scientists have tried for decades to find any evidence of water.
Liquid Water and the History of Mars
The mean temperature on the surface of Mars is around -82 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the maximum temperature can reach 95 degrees Fahrenheit, which is over the water melting point.
The planet’s geological history had been determined to be split into three periods. The Noachian dated 4.5 billion years ago and involved the formation of the Tharsis volcanic upland and liquid water floods. The second era was named Hesperian and started 2.9 billion years ago when the extensive lava plains were found. The more recent period involves only meteorite impacts.
Amidst the complicated history of Mars, the scientists have yet failed to find any evidence of what happened billions of years ago, either in the form of fossils or another material proves.
Scientists believed that liquid water could not exist on the surface because of the low atmospheric pressure.
The Valles Marineris Study
The new images from the canyons made NASA believe that liquid water on Mars may stop being just a possibility. The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory from Arizona even tried to analyze the pictures in order to locate the origins of the dark flows, but it was nearly impossible.
The liquid water is supposed to a seasonal appearance inside the slopes of Valles Marineris. However, there is enough evidence that they do not originate from underground cavities.
The authors of the study show that the liquid water could have been produced by salts that are drawing water from the atmosphere. The slopes appear during the warm season and disappear after the cold sets in.
There are almost 1,000 flows in each site, and scientists will have to wait for Curiosity to reach the slopes to be sure that the black shades on the photographs are indeed liquid water.
Image Source: Flickr