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Mars and NASA: Water Flowing on Red Planet [BREAKING NEWS] [VIDEO]

Sep 28, 2015 01:37 PM EDT

There is new and strong evidence that water flows on Mars. It has to do with streaks like those seen in some bathtubs, and with salt deposits on rugged Mars hills.

That is, researchers using an imaging spectrometer on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) were able to find signs of minerals that had received water on Mars slopes where they had previously noticed curious streaks, according to a release.

The scientists had also noticed that the streaks seemed to ebb and flow as time passed. In warmer periods on Mars, when temperatures are higher than 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the streaks appear to flow down slopes--then they fade when weather is cooler, the release said.

"Our quest on Mars has been to 'follow the water,' in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we've long suspected," John Grunsfeld, who is associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington and an astronaut, said in a release. "This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars." (Scroll to read on...)

[(Credit: NASA / JPL) Dark streaks roughly the length of an entire football field advance down slopes during warm seasons, suggesting they are liquid water. This site is within Hale Crater.]

The team's new finding is that salts that have received moisture are on the slopes and may be related to the dark streaks. Salts would decrease the freezing point of liquid brine, as salted roads on Earth melt ice and snow more rapidly, the release said.

The new finding is that there is likely a liquid flow just below the surface, and enough of the water makes it to the surface to cause darkening, the release said.

"We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest, which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration. In either case, the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks," Lujendra Ojha, Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), said in the release.

The team's findings were published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

More information about NASA's journey to Mars is available on the agency's website.

For more information about the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, also visit this part of the agency website.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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