Today, September 28, 2015 will forever stand as the date mankind closed a chapter in space history. All plot twists and dramatic interludes written to this point, upstaged by confirmation of seasonal water flows on Mars. Analysis of images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter confirmed “seasonal dark streaks on Mars” (technically, recurring slope lineae )were the result of moving surface water.
Waxing and waning Martian streaks coincide with the seasons, actively darker and “moving” when temperatures hover between 0 – 30 degrees Fahrenheit, grinding to faded halts in colder weather. Media widely reports “flowing” water on Mars, an image that might conjure notions of rivers or freshwater pools – not so fast. Think along the line of trickles or oozing, no one knows where it comes from – theories range from melting sub-surface ice to salt crystals absorbing water vapor until reaching critical mass, bursting briefly to form muddy striations.
Martian water is so salty, the Dead Sea looks like a pristine mountain spring. Salty enough that temperatures of 21 degrees Fahrenheit (average air temperature on Earth required to form sea ice ) equate to the balmy days of Mars water “flows”.
Here are more recurring slope lineae, about 100 meters long. Image via NASA/ JPL/ Univ. of Arizona.
Flow, trickle, ooze, melt, crystallize, evaporate – I don’t mind, we have water on Mars. Our search for life demanded proof of liquid water, tomorrow we begin the next chapter.