- 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, corroborating their original hypothesis that the streaks are indeed formed by liquid water.
In what NASA heralded as a major announcement, scientists confirmed Monday morning that there was indeed life on Mars—if not today, then in its recent past—through the evidence of flowing water on the Red Planet's surface.
"Now, we have convincing science that validates what we've long suspected," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator at NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C. "This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water—albeit briny—is flowing today on the surface of Mars."
It was five years ago that researchers said they had spotted "dark streaks" through the slopes of Martian craters, but the streaks disappeared in the planet's coldest weather and reappeared when it was warm. Scientists were quick to add that it was unclear just how much water is on the surface of Mars.
Indeed, today's NASA announcement confirmed that huge oceans were probably on Mars billions of years ago, but the planet experienced significant climate change.
In a paper published by Nature Geoscience, it was noted that "recurring slope lineae," aka RSL, were similar to formations found found in the Atacama Desert in Chile. The RSL, first spotted by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, indicated that there may still be some water flowing on the Martian surface.