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NASA announces water discovery on Mars

“New findings from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars,” was released on Monday, September 28 according to nasa.com.

The deposits of water were found in the icecaps on the north and south poles of Mars according to space and astronomy news website space.com

NASA scientists started using imaging spectrometer on MRO to detect different minerals that were on Mars’ slopes. Certain streaks of minerals indicate material hydrated by existing liquid water. These streaks change with the Martian weather, getting darker during a warm period and lighter during a cold period.

The United States have been studying Mars for decades. Mariner 9 was the first space craft to orbit a planet in 1971 according to space.com. NASA started to explore Mars in the early 1990’s because they were given a wealth of information from different space agencies around the world about the possibility that Mars held water, said space.com.

In 2008, Phoenix found small pieces of bright material that ended up disappearing after four days. This lead scientists to “surmise that there were pieces of water ice” according to space.com. When scientists tested their theory they discovered traces of water vapor in the minerals. This helped to confirm their hypothesis about water being on Mars.

Then in August 2012, scientists found multiple rocks that had been exposed to liquid water over a million years ago, space.com said.

Finding water on Mars “will certainly generate more interest in the search for life outside of planet Earth,” Kenneth Hahn, astronomy professor at John Brown University, said.

In 2020, “a car-size robot” will be sent to Mars looking for evidence of past life, said space.com.

NASA also would like to continue their “search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” John Grunsfeld said, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington on nasa.com.

The downside of continuing to explore Mars is the financial cost, said Hahn.

Cristopher Poveda, freshman engineering major, said he believes that since NASA found water on Mars, “it serves as a sign that, as a product of complex chemistry, it is inexcusably egocentric to suggest that we are alone in the cosmos.”

When looking for any signs of life, there are a few things to consider. Hahn said these are “liquid water, stable temperatures, a stable orbit around a stable star, the right mixture of chemical elements available to support life and an atmosphere capable of supporting life.”

Hahn said that while “most planets seem to have what we have, the Lord has given the Earth the right mixture and the right conditions for life to survive and thrive.”