It turns out that Mars is not as dry as it seems. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
NASA has announced that it has discovered the best evidence yet of water flowing on the surface of Mars.
New images returned by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have helped scientists to confirm that the mysterious dark streaks previously observed on the planet's surface are in fact formed by flows of briny liquid water that occur during the warmer months of the Martian summer.
"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 NASA's John Grunsfeld.
"This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water - albeit briny - is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”
While it has long been known that liquid water once existed in vast quantities on Mars in the form of rivers, lakes and oceans, today's revelation represents the first time that it has been conclusively discovered on the planet's surface in the present day.
It's presence could even mean that Mars may be able to support primitive life forms.
"It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet," said lead scientist Michael Meyer.
"It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future."