UPDATED NASA Announces Major Discovery in the Agency’s Ongoing Mars Exploration

NASA has announced they will make an important announcement today that relates to the agency's ongoing exploration of Mars. The news briefing was scheduled for Monday, September 28th, at 11:30 a.m. EDT. Not one drop of detail was revealed about what this call could be, although it is widely rumored to be the discovery of traces of water under the surface of the Red Planet.
Mars 2 photos
Photo: NASA
These dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks called recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars are inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water. Recently, planetary scientists detected hydrated salts on these slopes at Hale crater, corrob
Human space exploration has come a long way from the early studies of Mars. Probes sent from Earth beginning in the late 20th century have yielded a dramatic increase in knowledge about the Martian system. However, roughly two-thirds of all spacecraft destined for Mars failed before completing their missions, and there are some that failed before their observations could begin.

Clearly, NASA’s recent missions to the Red Planet were the most lucrative since space exploration started. For about a year now, there are two scientific rovers on the surface of Mars beaming signals back to Earth and five orbiters currently surveying the planet. The ongoing primary objective NASA is looking after is the search for evidence of habitability, taphonomy (related to fossils), and organic carbon on the planet.

The discovery of water on the surface would undoubtedly make a significant change in the way we see things, considering that in theory, it cannot be pure H2O. If it were, it would quickly evaporate because of the low atmospheric pressure on Mars, or freeze because of the low temperature.

Like most of the world out there, we’ll also stay focused to the Agency’s announcement and will make sure to keep you guys updated.

So that you know, news conference participants will be:

· Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters
· Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters
· Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta
· Mary Beth Wilhelm of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and the Georgia Institute of Technology
· Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) at the University of Arizona in Tucson

Update: New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars - the Agency has announced.

What does that mean exactly? It means that the downhill flows - known as recurring slope lineae (RSL) - NASA has found for some time now actually are related to liquid water, as it was initially believed. Here’s the Agency’s explanation:

Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and seem to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.”

According to NASA, the new findings of hydrated salts on the slopes point to what that relationship may be to these dark features. The hydrated salts would lower the freezing point of a liquid brine, just as salt on roads here on Earth causes ice and snow to melt more rapidly. Scientists say it’s likely a shallow subsurface flow, with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening.

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