According to NASA, their research has revealed that there is strong evidence of liquid water being present on Mars, which flows occasionally. Planetary scientists hang on to the saying that following the water should be employed when searching for life in outer space. Now researchers believe that the discovery of water flowing on the red planet is a possible indication that there used to be life there. But the big question is if this discovery means that scientists might soon find life in Mars, either extinct or current.
Is the Martian water a sign of life, or not?
At this point everything is still uncertain. NASA did not find a large body of water such as a brook, river or lake. What was found were hydrated minerals on various slopes, which suggested that those areas probably experience seasonal changes. The fluctuations in temperature on Mars then caused the water to trickle down the slopes during the warmer months. They appear as dark streaks when the temperature is warm and fade completely when the temperature goes down.
The streaks are called recurring slope lineae (RSL), which could be described as thin layers of soil that became wet, according to Alfred McEwen, one of the new NASA study’s authors. He added that when scientists follow the water on earth, they are likely to find some form of microbes in the earth’s dry parts, but the practice is not applicable to Mars. Moreover, water on Mars would be far more salty than the oceans on earth, which, although salty, are teeming with life.
What the discovery of water on Mars means is that had there been life on the planet when it was still a wet and warm world, it vanished millions, rather than billions of years ago. Gauging from experiences in the driest places here on earth, some form of life could creatively take advantage of the smallest amount of water to thrive and survive. The new findings bring additional evidence that the disappearance of lakes and the habitability window on Mars closed more recently than previously assumed.
NASA said that their new finding gives their scientists a better idea of how life, if ever something is found in the current environment on Mars, could survive.
Must tread carefully
The discovery also presents another challenge to NASA. Since there is now evidence that water is present on Mars, the recurring slope lineae will have to be considered special regions and should not be contaminated by microbes from earth. Thus, they need to do some special sterilization process for the rover or lander that they will send to those regions in the future.
Image Copyright: designpics / 123RF Stock Photo