Initially, scientists believed our best shot at finding water on Mars would likely come at the planet’s ice caps. Then they thought there could be some surface water much easier to tap into. But now ... it looks like we might have to aim back at the ice caps.
The dark streaks, aka recurring slope lineae (RSL), found by scientists initially seemed to be flowing water, which looked to be water slowly pouring out of melting ice deposits or ground water. But some new data seems to indicate the water is either coming from the atmosphere or it's not even water at all. If the streaks are water, the new study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research indicates it could be too salty to use. Uh-oh.
If this is true, it means it’ll make things a good bit harder for future space explorers, since it limits the potential locations where we can harvest potable water with a manned mission. In regard to the potential ground water, we could actually have an answer sooner than later, since NASA could potentially use the Curiosity rover to do some tests on the RSL.
Here’s hoping we still find usable water on the surface, but at the moment, the odds are looking longer.