For decades men and women have speculated that there may be water on Mars, the fourth planet from our Sun. Until now, many considered the planet too cold and dry to allow for liquid water, though ice has previously been identified on the planet. At 11:30 AM Eastern Time on Monday, September 28th, 2015 NASA announced to an eager world that their Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter had detected and confirmed liquid water on that planet’s surface.
When investigating “mysterious streaks” that had been sighted on slopes, water was found in mineral salts called “perchlorates.” These salts allow the water to remain unfrozen at temperatures as extreme minus 70 Celsius, and it was found that these hydrated salts dried up during certain seasons and flowed during others. John Grunsfeld of NASA stated in a NASA article that “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water – albeit briny – is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”
This discovery raises many new questions in the scientific community, including whether Mars may support microscopic life forms, whether previous humidity readings from the surface were accurate, and what this means for the eventual exploration of Mars.
More details can be read at NASA and in the New York Times. Join the discussion below to pose any questions you think we, as a modern society, should be asking now, and to talk about the impact you believe NASA’s discovery will have on future space exploration and research. Will this reinvigorate our interest in space and help spur forward a new generation of astronauts and researchers? Will we begin looking in other unlikely places for the stuff of life? Share your ideas below.
(Copyright 2015 Tys Sweeney)