A recent analysis suggests that the ‘flowing streams’ noticed in Mars’ imagery may be sand instead of water. The findings are at odds with research from 2015 that found that dark streaks on some of the Red Planet’s slopes may indicate the presence of water.
A group of researchers in Arizona found that the marks may be flows of sand instead of liquid water. The team didn’t rule out the presence of water on the planet, but it argued that it wouldn’t be enough to promote life.
The findings appeared in the journal Nature Geoscience.
NASA, on the other hand, doesn’t believe the study is conclusive.
Michael Meyer who leads the U.S. space agency’s Mars program underlined that the new findings do not suggest the absence of water. He thinks that they just suggest Mars may not be having “rivers going down the sides of cliffs.”
Mars – an Intriguing Planet
The latest research was based on the imagery provided by Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Scientists looked for recurring slope lineae (RSLs) in the NASA photos.
- The Arizona team analyzed 151 dark streaks spotted in 10 sites on Mars.
- Some of the dark lines were present on slopes with a degree of inclination that matches that of sand dunes.
- On Mars, these lines appear only in summertime from the equator midway to each of the poles.
Arizona researchers found that the streaks are dry which means that there isn’t much liquid water on Mars as NASA had suggested. Liquid water is crucial for microbes to thrive. Nevertheless, there are still many questions unanswered, so more research is required.
Yet, it is not the first time scientists claim Mars is wet and change their view completely a few years later. But this is what makes Mars so intriguing.
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