Scientists confirmed on Monday 28th September 2015 that Water flows in some parts of Mars deep underground the surface. It is easy to think that the discovery was made by the much loved “Curiosity Rover” present there or that this the first discovery of its kind, well both of these assumptions are wrong. Water was known to be present on Mars in the form of small puddles that usually appear at night but then disappear. It is also well documented that frozen water exists on the poles of the planet.
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is primarily used to study about Mars, and it played a pivotable role in the latest discovery. First to explain how the orbiter works, as per official NASA site the orbiter “is studying the history of water on Mars“. The orbiter uses three cameras study various characteristics of the Red Planet. These cameras provide imagery and data which enables NASA to develop models of the Mars’s surface. The equipment is shown and briefly described below:
HiRISE (High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment)
This visible camera reveals small-scale objects in the debris blankets of mysterious gullies and details of geologic structure of canyons, craters, and layered deposits.
CTX (Context Camera)
This camera provides wide-area views to help provide a context for high-resolution analysis of key spots on Mars provided by HiRISE and CRISM.
MARCI (Mars Color Imager)
This weather camera monitors clouds and dust storms.
Scientists at NASA have been studying seasonal dark streaks on the surface of Mars which they suspected may be a result of water flowing underground.As stated by CNN “The investigation showed the streaks absorb light at specific wavelengths associated with chemicals known to pull water from the Martian atmosphere in a process called deliquescence, said Georgia Tech doctoral student Lujendra Ojha” . These compounds lower the freezing point of water allowing it to remain liquid in cold temperatures at Mars. The source of water for this phenomena is still not confirmed, but scientists suspect three things deliquescence, melting subsurface ice or even a liquid-water aquifer.
Water sources are necessary to establish the concept of extraterrestrial life on Mars. If we compare it with Earth we find life anywhere we find water, whether it be microbes, plants or animals water is crucial to sustain life.