Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Liquid water on Mars

By AusSMC

Salty streaks identified by an orbiting spacecraft could be the first solid evidence of liquid water - a key ingredient for life as we know it - on Mars.

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Professor Geraint Lewis is Professor of Astrophysics & ARC Future Fellow at the Sydney Institute for Astronomy and Associate Head for Research in the School of Physics, The University of Sydney.

“Mars appears to be a cold, dry planet, but observations over the years have revealed streaks on the surface that come and go with the seasons. In this new paper, Ojha have uncovered the signature for salts in the streaks, critical evidence for the streaks having formed by flowing, or at least dribbling, water.

As salt on your frozen driveway lowers the freezing point of ice, this briney remains liquid in the harsh conditions on Mars, allowing it to flow across the surface in the chill of a mid-summer on Mars. Many question remain, including what is the source of this briney water, be it locked up ice under the surface, or rarified vapours in the atmosphere, but this new result bolsters the argument for water on the surface of our planetary companion.”

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Dr Alan Duffy is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing at
Swinburne University of Technology

“Of all the worlds we've explored, water flows only on the surface of one - ours. Which is why the discovery that water is now likely to be regularly flowing across Mars is so stunning.

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The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.