Space agency NASA believes that Mars has the capability to support life or once upon a time it had supported life. The very exciting news is lately, NASA’s Mars orbiters – Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) and Odyssey – have captured new images of Mars known as Reurring Slope Lineae (RSL), which show ‘strongest indication’ that flowing water may still exist today on the planet.
Lujendra Ojha, a graduate student at Georgia Tech in Atlanta, discovered the RSL in 2011, while he was doing his under-graduation at the University of Arizona. Ojha and his colleagues used the MRO and Odyssey orbiter to look at 200 sites that were identified as being ideal spots to see RSL, but only 13 of those sites actually showed any sign of the lines.
According to NASA scientists, the dark markings in the above image suggest seasonal flows down a slope, overlaid with colors from a mineral-mapping spectrometer observing the same region. NASA says the dark, fingerlike markings advance down some slopes when temperatures rise. When Ojha and his colleagues studied images of 13 RSL sites they saw relatively high concentrations of iron minerals at most of the sites.
Ojha said in a statement, “We still don’t have a smoking gun for existence of water in RSL, although we’re not sure how this process would take place without water.”
Scientists believe there could be salt water running in the Martian hills! If there is really water, even in small amounts, it could lead us a long way toward a deeper understanding of the planet’s past and current climate and potential for life.