It’s not alien life, but NASA has made a major discovery that could indicate there was (or still is) life on the Red Planet.
A new study published in Nature Geoscience claims to have discovered salts known as perchlorates in readings from orbit. Why is that significant? Because, according to the project’s principal investigator, Alfred S. McEwen, it serves as a “direct detection of water in the form of hydration of salts.” For those salts to exist, water must have been present on the surface within a period of days. That’s right, not millennia — days.
We already knew water once flowed on Mars, and the planet likely featured rivers and oceans billions of years ago. But, in the modern day, all that seemingly remained of that water was frozen on the planet’s polar ice caps. Until now, apparently. The New York Times notes this discovery could also explain mysterious findings over the past several years, such as streaks that would show up on slopes (slope lineae) then disappear as the weather changed. Researchers now believe those mysterious streaks could be water.
The study has found indications of these water-related salts at four sites where the streaks exist, and they all faded when the streak faded. It’s possible the water could be coming from the atmosphere, but the most likely explanation is underground. Regardless: This has researchers buzzing because it could mean microbial life is alive and well on Mars, since there seems to be liquid water on the surface.
We can’t wait to see what they find next. What do you think? Are we closer than ever to discovering an alien microbe on Mars?
(Via NY Times)