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Aero India 2023

NASA orbiter points to ‘flowing water’ on Mars

An image combining orbital imagery with 3-D modeling shows flows that appear in spring and summer on a slope inside Mars' Newton crater. A NASA photo

PASADENA (BNS): In yet another striking evidence of existence of water on the Red Planet, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has spotted what appears to be flowing water during warmest months on the planet.

Images acquired from the MRO spacecraft show streams of salty liquid water still active on the planet.

The dark, finger-like features appear and extend down some Martian slopes during late spring through summer, fade in winter, and return during the next spring.

Repeated observations have tracked the seasonal changes in these recurring features on several steep slopes in the middle latitudes of Mars’ southern hemisphere.

“The best explanation for these observations so far is the flow of briny water,” according to Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the orbiter’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).

The liquid water is as salty as Earth’s oceans and the saltiness lowers its freezing temperature on the extremely cold planet.

The imaged surface spots, though few meters wide and narrow, yet at some places display more than 1,000 individual flows.

While the previously pictured Martian gullies bearing signs of frozen water are abundant on cold, pole-facing slopes, these dark flows are on warmer, equator-facing slopes of Mars.

Scientists have found evidence of frozen water on the subsurface of Mars before, but this is the first time that liquid water has been traced on the planet’s surface.

“NASA’s Mars Exploration Programme keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbour life in some form… and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said.

The new findings are surely giving a fresh impetus to man’s long-cherished Martian dreams.


Mars  Water  

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