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NASA images show possible flowing water on Mars

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This image, released on Feb. 10, 2014, combines a photograph of seasonal dark flows on a Martian slope with a grid of colors based on data collected by a mineral-mapping spectrometer observing the same area.

Scientists at the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) say new clues have emerged about the presence of flowing water on the surface of Mars.

NASA’s spacecraft orbiting Mars took new photos, which seem to show liquid flowing down a slope on the planet’s surface during a seasonal change in which surface temperatures go up.

“We still don’t have a smoking gun for existence of water in RSL, although we’re not sure how this process would take place without water,” said Lujendra Ojha, lead author of the agency’s new report. RSL refers to recurring slope lineae, the technical term for the potential water flow.

“The flow of water, even briny water, anywhere on Mars today would be a major discovery, impacting our understanding of present climate change on Mars and possibly indicating potential habitats for life near the surface on modern Mars,” said Richard Zurek who is NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project scientist.

Theoretically speaking, the new evidence could mean that water, which was previously frozen, is temporarily melting and moving downward.

According to NASA, iron-rich minerals on the surface of Mars, including ferric sulfate, could act as a sort of antifreeze, allowing water to remain liquid despite freezing temperatures on the red planet.

The potential discovery is important since scientists have already put forward the possibility of traces of water existing under the surface of Mars; however, they had almost rejected the possibility of flowing water still existing on the planet’s surface.

The results of the new study have been published in the latest issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters.


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