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NASA Finds "Strong" Evidence For Water On Mars

Sorry everyone, that big announcement is not aliens.

Posted on September 28, 2015, at 11:00 a.m. ET

Scientists have discovered evidence for liquid salt water on the surface of Mars.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

They've discovered that lines on the surface of the planet known as "recurring slope lineae" are formed when salt water trickles down slopes. Scientists thought that they might form this way, but now they have evidence to support this idea.

Their study was published today in the journal Nature Geosciences.

Using a new technique, scientists were able to detect the presence of "hydrated salts" in the lines.

NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Lujendra Ojha, a grad student at Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, and colleagues analysed data from an instrument onboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. They found these salts in four different locations where the lines are present, and not in surrounding areas, suggesting that the lines are formed by salt water.

The researchers wrote in their paper: "Our findings strongly support the hypothesis that recurring slope lineae form as a result of contemporary water activity on Mars."

We already know there is water in the form of ice on Mars. But this announcement confirms that there is liquid water on the surface too.

ESA / esa.int

Mars has polar ice caps. Its average surface temperature is around -55ºC, which is too cold for non-salt water to exist as a liquid. This image shows ice in an impact crater near Mars' north pole.

Finding water on Mars is a big deal because it gives us somewhere to start looking for life.

NASA / emojistickers.com / BuzzFeed

It also means that, if humans ever go there, we know there'll be water ready and waiting for them.

BBC

(As Doctor Who taught us, there's no way that can go wrong at all.)

Last week NASA teased everyone by trailing today's announcement on Twitter.

Mars mystery solved? Find out Monday at 11:30am ET at a live briefing on NASA TV: http://t.co/YYpCP6fv3Y Q? #askNASA

So while this news is interesting to scientists, it might be disappointing to anyone who'd hoped this ~mysterious announcement~ meant 👽👽👽.

@NASA #askNASA soooo it's Martians, right?

@NASA if it's anything other than aliens then just tell me now to save me the pain of being disappointed on Monday x

@NASA it's them Martians, right? I'll bet my pension!

You can watch NASA scientists discuss the finding live on NASA TV today at 11:30am ET.

If you have questions, submit them using the hashtag #askNASA.

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