At Home by a Martian Stream

Recurring Slope Lineae Credit : JPL

Recurring Slope Lineae
Credit : JPL

NASA reported today on an intriguing line of inquiry in the hunt for evidence of liquid water running on the surface of Mars. Once thought to out of the question, recent years have seen a number of images which strongly suggest the presence of seasonal water flows of what is speculated as a very salty brine near the surface in some areas. The phenomenon are called “recurring slope lineae” or RSL, and are thought to occur when daily or seasonal warming causes water to trickle down from open slope faces, much as it does on Earth.

 The current study uses images originally gathered by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) instrument aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify possible sites, which were then examined with the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer (CRISM) to look at mineral changes which occur with RSL.  The key finding is “distinct and consistent spectral signatures of ferric and ferrous minerals at most of the sites,” which vary along with changes in the RSL itself.  The most likely explanation is a brine consisting of an “iron-mineral anti-freeze.” The full story is here.

While flowing water, no matter how seasonal or salty, has yet to be confirmed on Mars, the evidence continues to mount, and with it the prospects for settlement,  and perhaps even a nice little hab-cabin tucked away by an anti-freeze stream somewhere.

When that day comes, based on this image taken by the Mars Rover, this is how Earth may appear from the front porch.

The Home System from Mars Credit : NASA/JPL

The Home System from Mars
Credit : NASA/JPL

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