In a press conference this morning at 11:30 am Eastern time, NASA scientists confirmed the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) found liquid water on Mars, as evidenced by mineral streaks on the surface that ebb, flow, and change color over time.
After years of methodical study, researchers noticed dark streaks appearing on the slopes of Mars. These streaks seemed to ebb and flow during the warmer seasons on the red planet, indicating water.
From NASA's press release:
“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,” said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
“It took multiple spacecraft over several years to solve this mystery, and now we know there is liquid water on the surface of this cold, desert planet,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington. “It seems that the more we study Mars, the more we learn how life could be supported and where there are resources to support life in the future.”
“This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.” This development means these could be resources that benefit future expeditions. The water itself is pretty salty, saltier than the world's oceans, according to scientist Alfred McEwen. The researchers estimate at least 100,000 cubic meters of water. But it's wet soil, rather than standing water, which means researchers will have to develop ways to extract it from the ground.
However, it seems NASA's researchers are already on it — developing some "MacGyver" solutions to prepare for a Mars mission.