Scientists have discovered evidence of flowing salt water on Mars, which has ignited debate about potential alien life within the planet's surface. The images sent from NASA's orbiter show waters descending from rocky slopes.
Information from the orbiter has added new fuel to the discussion on Mars' capability of supporting alien life forms. Scientists have sent numerous space missions in obtaining a variety of evidence that may reveal biological microbial life outside of Earth.
"NASA's Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form ... and it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.
Mars contains many crevices, perhaps remains of dried up bodies of waters, valleys, and rivers. Scientists speculate that millions of years ago, Mars contained lakes and other large bodies of liquid, but over time the water has disappeared, perhaps flowing down beneath the planet's surface through the numerous cracks.
The latest photos of flowing water presents theories that living organisms are able to survive in Mars' underground flowing waters, living in darkness under the planet's surface. There are examples of such organisms on Earth, and it may also hold true on Mars.
The water shows up as dark-colored, finger-like streaks flowing down from various slopes and crevices. Based on seasonal photos, the water patterns appear to grow or recede depending on the season. Scientists hypothesize that the briny water could appear and disappear based on the winter or summer months on the Red Planet.
"We expect water on Mars to be briny, to be salty, because we know that the surface is salty from all of the past landers and rovers. ... Furthermore, the salt serves to depress the freezing point of the water, so in places where it's below freezing, we see this activity, it is still plausible for that to be salty water," said Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona.
The theory of Mars holding briny salty water is connected to its freezing point. The more salt water contains, the lower the freezing temperature. Based on McEwen's observations, the apparent unfrozen flowing waters were spotted on steeper slopes as it descends at warmer seasonal months. Water streaks on Mars are thought to be hundreds of years old.
Evidence from Mar's flowing waters could bring stronger speculations of life outside of planet Earth. Click "START" to see other planets and moons that have the potential to support alien life.