Hold The Phone: There’s Liquid Water On Mars

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) just gave us the coolest news of the day. Sorry, Madrid fans, but this blows your little Ronaldo movie out of the water… see what I did there?

See? He gets it

See? He gets it

According to data taken from the orbiter we’ve got some pretty solid evidence that there’s water flowing on present-day Mars. How do they know this? Because they’re NASA. Scientists wanted to know what’s up with those out-of-place streaks on Mars, so they used an image spectrometer aboard the MRO and detected signatures of hydrated minerals. These mysterious streaks appeared to drain and flood over time, as they darken and flow down steep slopes in warm seasons before fading in cooler seasons.

15-195_perspective_2

These dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks called recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars are inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water. Recently, planetary scientists detected hydrated salts on these slopes at Hale crater, corroborating their original hypothesis that the streaks are indeed formed by liquid water. The blue color seen upslope of the dark streaks are thought not to be related to their formation, but instead are from the presence of the mineral pyroxene. The image is produced by draping an orthorectified (Infrared-Red-Blue/Green(IRB)) false color image (ESP_030570_1440) on a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the same site produced by High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (University of Arizona). Vertical exaggeration is 1.5. Credits: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Longest. Photo. Caption.Ever. Moving on. John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, gives us the skinny.

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” Take that, non-believers! Sorry, John, go on. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

So, those downhill flows you see in the picture are called recurring slope lineae (RSL), not to be confused with Real Salt Lake… they’re an MLS team, relax. The findings of hydrated salts in them there slopes point toward one thing; locked water. This is because the hydrated salts lower the freezing point of liquid brine the same way that we use salt to clear off the driveway. It’s likely shallow, but scientists say that there’s enough of this subsurface water to hit the surface and explain why those streams darken and lighten.

“We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks,” said Lujendra Ojha, lead author of a report on these findings published Sept. 28 by Nature Geoscience.

This is fucking cool, man. Do you know what this means? No? Well, Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program,  is here to drop some knowledge.

“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet,” Right, so what does this mean? “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.” 

That’s right. We’re learning more and more about how to set up a colony on Mars. Elon musk has to be foaming at the mouth over this news.

[NASA]

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