Briny water flows during the summer months on Mars, raising the possibility that the planet, long thought to be arid, could support life today, scientists analyzing data from a NASA spacecraft said.
Although the source and the chemistry of the water is unknown, the discovery will change scientists’ thinking about whether the planet that is most like Earth in the solar system hosts microbial life beneath its crust, Reuters reported.
“It suggests that it would be possible for life to be on Mars today,” John Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science, told reporters Monday, discussing a study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
“Mars is not the dry, arid planet that we thought of in the past. Under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found on Mars,” said Jim Green, the agency’s director of planetary science.
“If I were a microbe on Mars, I would probably not live near one of these [sites]. I would want to live further north or south, quite far under the surface and where there’s more of a freshwater glacier,” Grunsfeld said.
“We only suspect those places exist, and we have some scientific evidence that they do.”
The discovery of the water flows was made when scientists developed a new technique to analyze chemical maps of the surface of Mars obtained by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.
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