After NASA announced on Monday that it had found evidence of water on Mars, Chinese scientists were quick to discuss how the findings would effect the chances of life on the red planet.
The new study, involving Dr Colman Gallagher from the School of Geography and Earth Institute at UCD, as well as Open University researchers, claims liquid water flowed beneath glaciers on Mars.
However, the rover is not sterile and risks contaminating the wet areas with earthly bugs that have made their way onto the planet and may still be alive.
NASA now believes that what it calls “recurring slope lineae“, the dark streaks that run downhill on the sides of craters and other vertical topography during the Martian summer, are evidence that liquid water exists just beneath the planet’s surface. In addition, the discovery will also help astronomers in deciding on landing spots on Mars during future missions as they now know which parts of the planet will allow them to collect water from a natural supply.
The discovery increases the likelihood that there is life on Mars, perhaps in the form of so-called extremophiles – organisms that can survive in the extreme temperatures, acidic environments and anaerobic corners of space.
The evidence of flowing streams consists of dark, narrow streaks on the surface that tend to appear and grow during the warmest Martian months and fade the rest of the year.
There’s water on Mars!
The next step will be looking for the water’s source and determining if there is an aquifer network. Robotic landers could come close, though, and observe from a distance, McEwen said.
Present-day Mars is nothing like ancient Mars.
When not discovering water on Mars and completing a Ph.D at Georgia Tech, student Lujendra “Luju” Ojha can be found shredding guitar. “This has been finally proved by the imaging spectrometer on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter”, Lin explained, as researchers detected that signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes overlapped the former mysterious streaks.
A few have argued that the news was deliberately released by Nasa to coincide with the sci-fi film The Martian.
“No, the timing was dictated by the publication of the Nature Geoscience article which was released today”, Laurie Cantillo, a Nasa spokesman, told Yahoo News.