MDL News & Trends
NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today's Mars
New findings from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars. Using CRISM (Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars) researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious recurring slope lineae (RSL), are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts only when the dark features were relatively wide. When viewed at the same locations after the RSL recede, they detected no hydrated salt. “… now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program. MDL provided the curved gratings essential for the performance of CRISM.
Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.
"Our quest on Mars has been to 'follow the water,' in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we've long suspected," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars."
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