NASA has confirmed that liquid water flows on the present day surface of Mars. It’s been known already there’s water in the form of ice on Mars, but the atmosphere and temperature of the red planet always cast some amount of doubt as to whether any water could exist in liquid form.
Apparently such doubts were misplaced. The research, published in the journal Nature Geosciences, focuses on dark streaks in the Martian soil that appear to wax and wane during the Martian summer.
The data was gathered from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Using a specialized device, researchers determined the chemical composition of the dark streaks to be consistent with multiple hydrated salts that when combined could drop both water’s freezing point and vaporization rate.
In other words, the correct combination of salts would allow otherwise frozen water to flow. It’s still not known where such water might be emanating from —multiple theories abound—but that it exists is enough to foster hope of answering an even bigger question.
The researchers note that understanding the water situation on Mars will help us get closer to knowing if life exists there.