In a press release this morning, NASA has announced that there is evidence of flowing water on Mars.
The work, spearheaded by Lujendra Ojha a PhD candidate in Planetary Science at Georgia Institute of Technology, answers an age old question about the possibility of life on Mars.
Scientists have long believed there was water on Mars, but Lujendra, as an undergraduate was one of the first to spot possible liquid water flows on Mars. In 2011, he was co-author of the paper “Seasonal flows on warm Martian slopes” which was published in Science journal study. Fast forward 4 years and NASA has proven out his observations (he was also present at today’s announcement).
Why do we care if there is water on Mars? First and foremost, scientists have long believed that water is the harbinger of life. All across the planet Earth we find life where there is water, even under extreme conditions. The Aquifex genus of bacteria lives in water temperatures up to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Halobacterium halobium, which has evolved to live in environments with 10 times more salt than seawater is another example of living organisms thriving in unexpected environments.
Hopefully more investigations will actually find evidence of past or present life in the near future.