Today NASA, has released information showing “summer” or episodic water flows on martian mountains.
“There is liquid water today on the surface of Mars,” Michael Meyer
Writing in the journal Nature Geosciences, the team describes how it found infra-red signatures for hydrated salts when the dark flows were present, but none before they had grown. The hydrated salts – a mix of chlorates and percholorates – are a smoking gun for the presence of water at all four sites inspected: the Hale, Palikir and Horowitz craters, and a large canyon called Coprates Chasma.
“These may be the best places to search for extant life near the surface of Mars,” said Alfred McEwen, a planetary geologist at the University of Arizona and senior author on the study. “While it would be very important to find evidence of ancient life, it would be difficult to understand the biology. Current life would be much more informative.”
The flows only appear when the surface of Mars rises above -23C. The water can run in such frigid conditions because the salts lower the freezing point of water, keeping it liquid far below 0C.
“The mystery has been, what is permitting this flow? Presumably water, but until now, there has been no spectral signature,” Meyer said. “From this, we conclude that the RSL are generated by water interacting with percholorates, forming a brine that flows downhill.”
/Top Photo Mars true-color globe showing Terra Meridiani. Credits: NASA/Greg Shirah