Researchers may have found clues to the existence of flowing water on Mars. Recurring slope lineae (RSL) marks are seen sloping down the crater walls when the mercury levels rise. Even though evidence of water is still elusive, the seasonal changes in iron minerals suggest that brines may have or currently flow there. This is an amazing discovery that could lead to further discoveries with more future research.
Lujendra Ojha, a student graduate of Georgia Tech in Atlanta explains that although it is still not sure if water really is existent on Mars, it is also not sure of how the process of RSL could even take place without the element of water. For people who take an interest in the whole life on Mars exploration, they would be eager to find out if flowing water truly does exist on the red planet. If it does, the discovery of life on Mars is possibly a skip and a jump away from researchers and could open up windows to the existence of Martian life on the planet.
Images have been studied from thirteen RSL sites and they have been seen to contain high concentrations of iron minerals. Searchers say that the stronger iron signatures arise when it is warmer on the planet and that they are less significant when the season changes to colder temperatures. Although they have not exactly seen water, it does not mean that they should rule it out that there is none at all considering the amount of signs they had found indicating that it is possible for water to flow there.
The researchers believe that the recurring slope lineae were created by water flowing from beneath the surface of Mars. This may also indicate that it contains salt contents that may be leaving the iron antifreeze and minerals. This could be reducing the freezing point in order for water to stay in a liquid form. This opens up many questions as to whether the red planet has the potential to host life forms.
NASA is in the process of operating a few more missions in order to acknowledge whether or not life has ever been present on Mars. This starts with indicating the type of Martian environment Mars inhabits. On earth, all types of life must have water for it to survive. Although it is possible, it is still not really certain if life has ever existed to evolve on Mars, but it must also have water in order to do so.
A good place to search would be the Martian poles because it has been determined that water ice is present there. Carbon is also a building block for life to form. Looking for this would give a lot of information about where life may develop. The atmosphere on Mars is mainly made up of carbon dioxide. If carbonate minerals are formed on the Martial surface, then the presence of these minerals means that there could be clues left that water had been there for a great deal of time. On earth, rocks leave certain deposits indicating where lakes and streams have been in the past, and on Mars, searchers have come across similar deposits.
It would be a historical moment if researchers could go to Mars to do some extensive research that cannot be done by robots to determine if flowing water actually exists. The only problem is that it is very cold on Mars, and the magnetism is not there to push away radioactive particles. Sending people to Mars would take many years from now until those problems can somehow be resolved.
By Brittany Varner-Miller