Trickles of salt water may flow freely along ravines on contemporary Mars despite the planet’s extreme aridity, deep cold and tenuous atmosphere, scientists funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced Monday.
In a new satellite study, the scientists said their analysis of salt deposits detected in gullies on the Red Planet “strongly supports” the idea that rivulets of liquid brine periodically seep to the surface and stream down these Martian slopes, leaving distinctive streaks.
It is the most persuasive evidence yet that liquid water can be found today on the surface of Mars, experts said. The scientists published their research in the Journal Nature Geoscience.
For decades, planetary researchers have known that there is frozen water in the polar ice caps of Mars. Earlier this year, researchers using ground-based observatories concluded that Mars once had more water than in the Arctic Ocean on Earth. But that vast primitive ocean apparently vaporized billions of years ago.