CAPITAL BERG – Planet Mars has salty water flowing down its canyons and craters. This new discovery has the scientific community debating once again whether or not the Red Planet could host any life forms.
Field experts say that water is responsible for the dark streaks that can be seen on the surface of Mars every now and again, depending on the season. Since their behavior changes one every few months, space scientists are saying that significant amounts of water can be accessed in various places on the surface of the Red Planet.
The finding is also one of the strongest arguments that researchers have to demand funding for a manned mission to the neighboring planet. Water is essential not only for sustaining astronauts while they’re living on Mars, but also for providing a basis for rocked fuel.
What’s more, the very presence of water suggests that simple life forms may be waiting to be discovered, or that simple life forms may manage to survive and thrive if introduced to the planet’s environment.
It’s worth mentioning that researchers can’t prove that water is directly responsible for the dark streaks, however, the evidence that they have is still powerful and compelling.
They explained that Mars is known to have water-bearing salts and that these salts can be found in large quantities along the dark streaks, but they are less prominent in the soil sitting between them. What this suggests is that water currents have repeatedly deposited them in those places.
The field experts also mentioned that these salts have the capacity to soak up moisture from Mars’ atmosphere and transform into a briny solution.
Looking at all of these facts, Mary Beth Wilhelm, scientist with the Ames Research Center from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (California), and her colleagues concluded that the dark streaks “are formed by liquid water on present-day Mars”.
According to John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA’s science mission directorate, the thing that has gotten space scientists buzzing with excitements is that the discovery “suggests that it would be possible for there to be life today on Mars”.
This may revolutionize the way researchers think about the Red Planet as the general assumption has often been that Mars may have hosted life at some point in the distant past.
The researchers behind the study explained that based on the data that they currently have, the amount of water present on the Red Planet is the equivalent of at least 40 swimming pools used for Olympic games.
But while any considerable amount of water on another planet is impressive, it may not be quite as impressive as one might initially think. Alfred McEwen, researcher from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory from the University of Arizona (Tucson), offered a statement of his own mentioning that “That sounds like a lot if it’s all in one place. But that’s dispersed over a very wide area. So what we’re dealing with is thin layers of wet soil”.
However, he also admitter that Mars has a large surface and that the amount of water across the Red Planet may turn out to be very large.
The findings were published earlier this week, in the journal Nature Geoscience.
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