NASA announced Thursday that they've potentially discovered liquid water on the surface of Mars. Researchers are studying satellite images that appear to have the consistency of salty brine water.
The pictures captured by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have found features on several mountain slopes in the Southern hemisphere of the red planet. They believe that images beamed back to Earth may be evidence of water.
"This is water today, not in the past," study co-author Alfred McEwen, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona and lead investigator for the orbiter's HiRISE camera, told SPACE.com.
However, this substance is different from the known ice on Martian ground and plain liquid water. McEwen explaind, "It's more like a syrup in how it flows." It's still only a theory that the water being observed as the evidence is not definitive proof. However, scientists continue to look for alternative theories of what exactly it may be.
"NASA's Mars Exploration Program keeps bringing us closer to determining whether the Red Planet could harbor life in some form," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "And it reaffirms Mars as an important future destination for human exploration."
University of Arizona student Lujendra Ojha was first to make the discovery when he examined strange seasonal features.
"I was baffled when I first saw those features in the images after I had run them through my algorithm," said Ojha, who is a co-author on the Science publication. "We soon realized they were different from slope streaks that had been observed before. These are highly seasonal, and we observed some of them had grown by more than 200 meters in a matter of just two Earth months."
McEwen followed saying, "It's a mystery now, but I think it's a solvable mystery with further observations and experiments."