NASA is on a continual search for Earth II and a suitable home for humanity as our spaceship Earth continues to run out of gas and time. NASA is particularly interested in a planet that has many of the same characteristics as our planet. Mars has always been at the top of scientist`s list as the next Earth but Mars had always lacked some of the key element`s that we humans need for survival. One of those elements that really has never been detected on Mars is the possibility that Mars may have flowing water on it. That is until now.
NASA has been spending a lot of money on many things to keep up with space exploration and one of those entities is space exploration drones such as the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Recently the Mars Orbiter detected what could be or looked like streams of flowing water during the warmest months on the Red Planet.
Charles Bolden who is the NASA Administrator for the NASA EXPLORATION Program for Mars had this to say, "NASA`s Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form "and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration." (Bolden, 2011)
Just the idea of possibly finding another planet that could sustain human life is amazing. I guess with all the damage we have done to this planet, pollution, etc., this is now a must to find another planet we could live on if we had to.
The possible flowing streams of water that have been detected on Mars appear have dark-fingered and flowing like features, almost like flying thirty-thousand feet above some of the most mountainous terrain on Earth and looking down at the many streams and rivers that extend down mountainside and slopes. This is the same thing that the Mars Orbiter detected on Mars. And it makes sense because most of the streams appear in the warmer months and dissipate in the colder months. Almost like normal water does, freeze in the winter and flow in the summer or warmer months when the water thaws out after a long and cold winter. Repeated observations of these reoccurring features have been detected on the deep slopes in the middle latitudes of the Southern Hemisphere of Mars.
"The best explanation for these observations so far is the flow of briny water," said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona, Tucson. McEwen is the principal investigator for the orbiter`s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HIRISE) and lead author of a report about the recurring flows published in Thursday`s edition of the journal Science. (McEwen, 2011, www.nasa.gov)
The briny water still have scientist scratching their head because the saltiness of the water will lower the freezing temperature. "These dark lineation`s are different from other types of features on Martian slopes," said MRO project scientist Richard Zurek of NASA`s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "Repeated observations show they extend ever farther downhill with time during the warm season." (Zurek, www.nasa.gov)
The features of the dark-fingered like flows of water are much narrower than once thought with widths of 0.5 meters wide in a lot of areas. The lengths of the finger flowing dark looking water extend hundreds of yards long. The dark water seems to be more abundant on the warmer, equator slopes as opposed to the gullies being more abundant on the cold and pole facing slopes.
The flowing water appears to be darker on the rocky, equator facing slopes and appears to lengthen during the spring and summer months which may suggest that there may be some sort of volatile material involved which may be in the flowing water or may be the substance that appears to be flowing water but scientists have not confirmed this hypothesis as of yet.
"The flows are not dark because of being wet," McEwen said. "They are dark for some other reason." McEwen also went on to say, "It`s a mystery now, but I think it`s a solvable mystery with further observations and laboratory experiments." (McEwen, 2011)
So, the mystery of finding water on Mars is confirmed but still has more questions to be answered on what the dark and flowing material appears to be, and is there some sort of volatile material mixed into the flowing water? Or is the dark color of the water due to the many temperature changes that happen on Mars? These types of questions and others is what makes science interesting and as mysterious as opening your first present on Christmas, you never know what you are going to get and the real question is, will Mars be the next planet that could sustain life?
What`s next for Mars? Now it is time to take a closer look at the giant rock formation that looks a lot like the sphinx and the pyramids in Egypt.