Scientists have the first evidence that water oozes from the mysterious dark bands that appear in the summer months on Mars. This discovery has implications for the potential life on the planet, as well as the planning for further human expeditions.
This grand discovery is reported in Nature Geoscience magazine. It took many years of research to find out why some rocky walls on Mars that have streaks in narrow dark edges (some of them are longer than 300 feet) appear at warm temperatures and disappear during the winter cold. .
Bands-streams were first seen in 2011 in the southern Martian highlands, and since then they have been found throughout the equatorial region of the planet, in particular, in deep ravines.
Using data collected by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter orbiter and new technical techniques, scientists were the first to discover obvious chemicals of the hydrated salts. As the planetary geologist of Arizona State University Alfred McEwen says, the residue of hydrated salts means that liquid water has appeared here relatively recently.
In its consultation press conference, NASA reports that the exploration of the planet "solves" the mystery of Mars, but in fact opens the door to another, potentially more complicated puzzle: Where did water come from?
The soil of Mars is two percent water.
“We could not definitively determine the source,” says lead researcher Ludendra Oyha, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, for Discovery News. “Water can form on the surface or under the ground from the melting of ice, but its presence at equatorial latitudes is extremely unlikely,” wrote Oyha and colleagues at Nature Geoscience.
There is a second option that salts absorb water vapor directly from the Martian air, although scientists find it difficult to explain how such tiny amounts of water in the atmosphere can seep down the hillsides and form streams-streams on the Red Planet.
“It’s just completely incomprehensible how the atmosphere can supply enough water to do this,” said McEwen.
Regardless of the source of water, its seasonal appearance on the surface of Mars gives rise to the prospect that life can already be present on this planet today.
Is enough water on Mars to sustain life?
Scientists noted that the structure of the water is sufficiently salty and dense, and that non-terrestrial organisms, at least, could survive there.
The NASA division, which is working in the direction of expeditions to Mars in the 2030s, has another interest in water. Future crews should get water for drinking, producing oxygen and for rocket fuel. At present, information on the chemical composition of water as a source is much more needed.
“We are just starting to study the surface,” said Oyha.