Mankind just got one step to finding life beyond Earth.
In a press conference a Monday, NASA announced that scientists have discovered liquid water on Mars, bringing scientist one step closer to finding life on the red planet.
After studying images from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), a spacecraft the orbits the planet, scientist determined that the planet contains liquid water.
The images from MRO showed dark slops on a Martian crater, known as recurring slope lineae (RSL) that would flow through the planet’s seasons. After study images of RSL scientists determined that dark images indicated liquid water under Mars’ surface.
“There have been no evidence for water until now,” said Michael Meyer, the lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA. “It is through the multiple spacecraft and the multiple years of observation that we’ve been able to make this discovery of water on today’s Mars.”
The dark images are of Mars’ perchlorates, or hydrated salts that are beneath the surface of Mars. While scientist have been aware of these minerals on Mars surface since the Viking rover missions in the 1970s, it was not until Monday that scientists could confirm that these salts contain liquid water, a key element necessary for the existence of life.
For years, many scientists have believed that there was liquid water on the red planet, as Mars has a temperature range where liquid water is possible.
“Today’s announcement, of a really fascinating result about current water on Mars, is one of the reason I feel it is more imperative that we send astrobiologist and planter scientist to Mars to explore the question, is there current life on Mars,” said John Grunsfeld, former astronaut and associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA.