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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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June 16, 2024

NASA confirms flowing water on Red Planet

Mars
Photo by Provided by NASA
Mars

While the idea of water on Mars isn’t a new phenomenon, NASA released a statement Monday that it has conclusive evidence of water flowing on Mars.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) captured images of recurring slope lineae, or essentially downhill flows of a liquid substance, inside various Martian craters. 

The MRO detected the presence of hydrated salts inside the downhill flows. These salts are capable of preventing the freezing of water down to temperatures as low as -94 degrees F.

Mark Lemmon, an associate professor in the atmospheric sciences department who studies the atmosphere of Mars, said the significance of NASA’s announcement can not be overlooked. 

“What we have known about Mars is there is water, ice and water vapor,” Lemmon said. “What they released today is that water gets sucked into the salt in the ground. When the temperature warms, the water can flow as liquid on the surface.”

Scientists are uncertain where the water originates and whether this will lead to other breakthrough discoveries. However, the announcement has sparked the public’s interest over the question of life on Mars. 

NASA’s Jim Green said to CNN.com, “We haven’t been able to answer the question, ‘Does life exist beyond Earth?’ But following the water is a critical element of that. We now have, I think, a great opportunity to be in the right locations on Mars to thoroughly investigate that.”

Now that scientists have confirmed running water on Mars, Lemmon said it gives the field of science a different outlook on how scientists will study the Red Planet in the near future. 

“Certainly talking about Mars being this active place with flowing liquid water is something that will get support for a mission,” Lemmon said. “We could send something that’s designed to explore these things and designed to look for life.”

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