Astronomy

Dark Streaks Spotted on Mars could be Running Water



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In an amazing discovery, scientists have found indicators that running water may exist on Mars. If this is true, this adds amazing possibilities of further exploration and discovery.

Scientists made this extraordinary announcement on Aug. 4.

According to Space.com (courtesy of MSNBC) this sighting of possible running water has "scientists newly excited about the Red Planet's potential to host some form of primitive life."

Presence of ice on Mars has already been known by scientists to be a likelihood, but determining the existence of water has always been an elusive possibility.

The recent detection of potential water came from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) which found indication that slopes carved into the surface of Mars, and experts believe this potential flow of water to be saltwater because it can stay liquid in colder temperatures being Mars is so much colder in Earth. Scientists also believe this flow of water to be seasonal in nature, occurring in the spring.

These lines were found after Lujendra Ojha, a University of Arizona student, used a computer algorithm on pictures of the Mars surface taken by the MRO.

Ojha said in a statement, "I was baffled when I first saw those features in the images after I had run them through my algorithm. We soon realized they were different from slope streaks that had been observed before. These are highly seasonal, and we observed some of them had grown by more than 200 meters [650 feet] in a matter of just two Earth months."

The MRO project is led by Alfred McEwen, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona. While running water seems to be the most plausible explanation at the moment, scientists are still not 100 percent sure.

About the discovery McEwen told Space.com "we've been trying to come up with alternate ideas, maybe some sort of dry avalanching process, but none of them work," McEwen said. "Why does this only seem to happen at certain temperatures and latitudes, and why darken and fade? Briny water seems to be the most viable explanation for these observations so far."

Another interesting factor about this discovery is the location of the slope streaks being examined. The latitudes where these are being observed are located in places where temperatures are much warmer, unlike the ice which has been found on Mars.

A mission set for 2016 is hopeful in finding a definitive answer to the question of whether or not running water actually exists on Mars.

If water is actually discovered, this could lead to learning more about potential life on other planets. Society has long been curious about extraterrestrial life existing on other celestial masses. Currently the possibility of life on other planets, especially on Mars due to its proximity to Earth and largely perceived as being the most probable planet to house life forms, has been elusive and full of theory and speculation. However, the presence of water would largely boost the argument for the existence of life on Mars.

Findings related to the existence of possible water on Mars were published in the Aug. 5 issue of the journal 'Science', according to the Washington Post.

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ARTICLE SOURCES AND CITATIONS
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44037386/ns/technology_and_science-space/
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.space.com/12543-mars-mystery-slopes-salt-water.html
  • InfoBoxCallToAction ActionArrowhttp://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/nasa-probe-shows-new-evidence-of-water-on-mars-photos/2011/08/05/gIQArIyOwI_blog.html