MILAN – Water on Mars? This is no longer wishful thinking. Recently, in a NASA press conference entitled ‘Mars Mystery Solved’, the presence of saltwater was confirmed on the red planet. Using an MRO imaging spectrometer, researchers revealed the presence of liquids on the planet’s slopes, where the mysterious streaks shown in the images represent the ebb and flow of water over the course of time: watercourses which seem to rise during the warm seasons, disappearing at the coldest times of year. A message reaching Earth: on Mars, there is water in the form of ghostly streams, which can appear and disappear according to the seasons.
These watercourses, called ‘RSL’ (recurring slope lineae) were detected by the satellite, ‘Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’, which has used a spectroscope to analyze the marks left by a series of specific minerals, called perchlorates. These are ‘hydrated salts’ which manifest in the presence of water. They reappear in various locations on Mars, when temperatures are higher than - 23 degrees Celsius. "Our research on Mars has been about finding conclusive evidence of the presence of water,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and administrator on NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, “This is research on the existence of life in the universe, which has led to us obtaining scientific confirmation of what we have always suspected. It is a significant development in scientific research, namely confirming the presence of water on the surface of Mars’. Are these underground streams? If the answer to this is positive, it would explain the dark areas on the ground: "The discovery confirms that water plays a role in the appearance of these traces,” says Lujendra Ojha from Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) in Atlanta, “but we do not know if it comes from under the surface of the planet. It could come from the atmosphere. We have found hydrated salts in the warmer seasons and this suggests to us that the processes which form them are the source of the hydration,” adds the main author of the report published on September 28 by Nature Geoscience, “In each case, the dark streaks on the soil and the detection of hydrated salts on the hills of Mars mean that water plays a fundamental role in their formation”.
by editorial staff