NASA has reversed its longstanding position of quietly acting like there’s absolutely no possibility for life on the planet Mars.
New photos released by the agency from the Curiosity rover clearly show running liquid on the planet’s surface (Via The New York Times):
“This is tremendously exciting,” James L. Green, the director of NASA’s planetary science division, said during a news conference on Monday. “We haven’t been able to answer the question, ‘Does life exist beyond Earth?’ But following the water is a critical element of that. We now have, I think, great opportunities in the right locations on Mars to thoroughly investigate that.”
It may be a tipping point for NASA officials who have been reluctant to speculate about the possibility of contemporary life on Mars.
“I can’t imagine that it won’t be a high priority with the scientific community,” said John M. Grunsfeld, NASA’s associate administrator for science, who said a mission in the 2020s could carry experiments to look directly for life.
This is one of the surest traits that agencies like NASA monitor for signs of life in space.
Surface readings from orbit directly detected water in the form of hydration salts, meaning there had to have been liquid water present on the planet’s surface in recent days for it to be detectable.
This also means the frozen polar ice caps of Mars are not the only place that water is located on the planet, and that there could be vast underground aquifers that melt during the summer and seep out of the planet’s surface.
Interesting how NASA’s announcement comes just in time for a mash up trailer for that new movie starring Matt Damon about surviving being stranded on Mars that’s set to open this weekend…
— The Martian Movie (@MartianMovie) September 29, 2015
In other news, Nestlé also heard about the Mars water announcement…
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