Breaking: NASA Says Water Flows on Mars - Update

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Breaking: NASA Says Water Flows on Mars - Update

Ahead of NASA's upcoming big announcement about the red planet, a paper published by the European Planetary Science Congress might have ruined the surprise: it confirms the presence of flowing salt water on Mars.

Update: NASA's conference is live, and confirms our suspicions - there is definitively liquid salt water on the Mars, flowing even as I type this.

Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology led the team that made the discovery. "It's unambiguous evidence that liquid water is flowing on Mars," he says. The paper is published in Nature Geoscience.

Original Story: NASA has been hyping their major Mars announcement for a few days now, but it looks like the European Planetary Science Congress beat them to the punch: at long last, astronomers can officially confirm the presence of flowing, salty water on the red planet.

For a long time, scientists and amateurs alike have been waiting for just this discovery. Water, of course, is a key ingredient to life as we know it - and its liquid presence on another planet is very exciting to anyone even remotely curious about the possibilities for extraterrestrial life. What creatures might swim in Mars' briny rivers?

Check out the gallery below for a high-res version of an artist's rendering of what Mars might have once looked like with a liquid ocean, courtesy of Wikipedia - not to mention a few of our other favorite views of the red planet:

But water means much more than that. It does not just mean our neighbor once hosted life, or perhaps still does - it means it might support our own habitation, whenever we get there. Water, too, is another indicator of just how similar our world is to Mars. That planet and Venus act as cautionary tales - what might happen to us in the far future; what could have happened.

The discovery in particular concerns brine, or very salty water. The assumption had long been that fresh water would too easily freeze on Mars' surface; apparently, the red planet's rivers have some built-in anti-freeze.

We'll update this post once NASA makes their official announcement; in the meantime, discuss the news in our forums! References to Total Recall are highly encouraged.

Source: EPSC

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Or they could not?
I mean the possibilities are literally endless!

I was expecting the announcement that the rovers had developed intelligence and were rebelling against their masters, quickly reproducing into a race of synthetic beings biding their time before invading Earth and establishing world peace by linking us into a single networked intelligence.

Salty water is neat too, though.

No spoilers!

First we drop an actor there, then we find out if he can survive.

Shit. They found my martian pot garden.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but water does not mean life. Its just a good place to start looking.

Renegade-pizza:
Sorry to burst your bubble, but water does not mean life. Its just a good place to start looking.

and that is why it says key-ingredient in the artcile.....

the article contiunously states there MIGHT be life

nowhere it is stated that water = life

Renegade-pizza:
Sorry to burst your bubble, but water does not mean life. Its just a good place to start looking.

You've heard of the phrase "Where there's life, there's hope"? Well, where there's water, there's hope of life since life on Earth began in oceans. Ergo, for the same reasons we're so interested in Pluto and Europa, the presence of water is a good indicator that life is possible. The water makes for a persuasive argument and flowing water even more-so, since circulation beats stagnation any day. For even while the atmosphere and the surroundings may be different, or that the dirt composition may support one thing more than the other, there are so very many things that exist or have existed in water, need water to have lived, and ignore so much that could be wrong with a world because the whole of their habitat is watery in nature. Suffice to say, the idea that life present (or having been present at one time) because of water is infinitely more compelling than life without it, so looking for it is ultimately the best benchmark to work with.

Now, the only REAL problem is if we find Ice Warriors...

So there might be salt water on Mars, which might make it possible for life to survive, which might mean life already exists or existed? Hooray, I guess.
In all seriousness, as much as I love science, and the cosmos in particular, I just can't get excited over speculative reporting on scientific breakthroughs. The media just handles it badly. Everything is pumped up in order to grab attention, and is usually much less significant when you actually read, from the scientists themselves, what has actually been discovered and what it actually means. We've been a few years away from discovering life on Mars for a long time now, and I hate to say it, but I have a bad feeling that in a few years time we'll still be a few years away.

All we need now then is for Nasa and the other agencies to pull themselves together and, as the big man himself says

I know it's all getting blown up and that we're still years, maybe decades away from any definitive answers, but it still leaves me a bit excited.

I wish NASA wouldn't announce that they plan to announce something.

is it water on mars or in marks though. because if its just another underground ocean touted as some lush river then thats nothing new. i find it hard to imagine how would water remain on mars surface.

Well they just have announced evidence of following water on the surface in the very recent past.

thaluikhain:
I wish NASA wouldn't announce that they plan to announce something.

Gives more attention this way, which NASA sadly needs.

Boris Goodenough:

thaluikhain:
I wish NASA wouldn't announce that they plan to announce something.

Gives more attention this way, which NASA sadly needs.

Certainly, I can see why they would do this, it's more or less their only option left, but it's still annoying/embarrassing/depressing.

thaluikhain:

Certainly, I can see why they would do this, it's more or less their only option left, but it's still annoying/embarrassing/depressing.

Oh I agree whole heartedly.

Well, my fingers were crossed for Prothean ruins, but this'll do. :D

Phew. For a second there, I thought we were going to be left to perish on this planet alone. All aboard the party bus to Mars! I'll bring the diesel!

hentropy:
I was expecting the announcement that the rovers had developed intelligence and were rebelling against their masters, quickly reproducing into a race of synthetic beings biding their time before invading Earth and establishing world peace by linking us into a single networked intelligence.

Salty water is neat too, though.

Well, they're not going to publicise the robot uprising.

sibrenfetter:

nowhere it is stated that water = life

It says:

But water means much more than that. It does not just mean our neighbor once hosted life

Which is probably what's being responded to.

thaluikhain:

Certainly, I can see why they would do this, it's more or less their only option left, but it's still annoying/embarrassing/depressing.

Could be worse. Activision announced an announcement tarailer announcing they'd announce Black Ops 3. At least they haven't reached that level.

Though NASA's microtransactions are getting out of hand.

The paper refers to hydrated salts, which isn't exactly the image the description that comes to mind when one hears "water". They also list the primary ingredients of these hydrated salts as magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate.

Sounds fun?

hentropy:
I was expecting the announcement that the rovers had developed intelligence and were rebelling against their masters, quickly reproducing into a race of synthetic beings biding their time before invading Earth and establishing world peace by linking us into a single networked intelligence.

Salty water is neat too, though.

I can see it now, the last tweet from Curiosity (@MarsCuriosity):

ALL THESE WORLDS ARE YOURS-EXCEPT MARS
ATTEMPT NO LANDING THERE
#SORRYNOTSORRY

Frezzato:
The paper refers to hydrated salts, which isn't exactly the image the description that comes to mind when one hears "water". They also list the primary ingredients of these hydrated salts as magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate.

Sounds fun?

At a glance - and about 12 years since my last chemistry class - that seems unpleasant. Also since Mars barely has an atmosphere I'd not expect anything outside of some very hardy microorganisms to be able to exist there. I mean we have examples of such creatures living in arsenic-rich waters, permanently dark ice (underground) and inside rock - so there's at least a theoretical chance of finding such life on otherwise barren stellar bodies.

Edit: Though, mostly, I just really want to see how the worlds religions (and just people in general) would deal with the confirmed existence of life on other planets. I expect a marvelous show of anything between utter insanity and "*shrug* cool, you found space algae".

Hm, though that would just be business as usual... wouldn't it? Still, I'd like to live in a world that has space algae, or space mold. Or some bizarre fish that the Japanese will go to space just to hunt, and then sell at absurd prices even though it just awful to eat.

thaluikhain:

Boris Goodenough:

thaluikhain:
I wish NASA wouldn't announce that they plan to announce something.

Gives more attention this way, which NASA sadly needs.

Certainly, I can see why they would do this, it's more or less their only option left, but it's still annoying/embarrassing/depressing.

Considering some of their previous announcements that were spur of the moment, and turned out to be inflated after the evidence had been examined more closely, I think they are taking their time to verify first.

Kerethos:

Frezzato:
The paper refers to hydrated salts, which isn't exactly the image the description that comes to mind when one hears "water". They also list the primary ingredients of these hydrated salts as magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate.

Sounds fun?

At a glance - and about 12 years since my last chemistry class - that seems unpleasant. Also since Mars barely has an atmosphere I'd not expect anything outside of some very hardy microorganisms to be able to exist there. I mean we have examples of such creatures living in arsenic-rich waters, permanently dark ice (underground) and inside rock - so there's at least a theoretical chance of finding such life on otherwise barren stellar bodies.

Edit: Though, mostly, I just really want to see how the worlds religions (and just people in general) would deal with the confirmed existence of life on other planets. I expect a marvelous show of anything between utter insanity and "*shrug* cool, you found space algae".

Hm, though that would just be business as usual... wouldn't it? Still, I'd like to live in a world that has space algae, or space mold. Or some bizarre fish that the Japanese will go to space just to hunt, and then sell at absurd prices even though it just awful to eat.

Until we find intelligent life, most of the population won't really give a shit. The people who are interested in this stuff will be really psyched, but the "Average Joe" will be more concerned with their daily problems to really flip out about some microbes. While this is just an opinion, and I certainly don't have any evidence to back it up, I suspect that most of the religious people in the world accept the idea that there could be life on other planets. So finding evidence of it won't really shake their world view at all. And for those who don't believe it's possible, well they are so closed minded that nothing we show them will convince them anyway. The Ken Ham's of the world will just keep their "God Glasses" on, and ignore anything that contradicts their narrow world view. So again, won't really freak them out.

FirstNameLastName:
So there might be salt water on Mars, which might make it possible for life to survive, which might mean life already exists or existed? Hooray, I guess.
In all seriousness, as much as I love science, and the cosmos in particular, I just can't get excited over speculative reporting on scientific breakthroughs. The media just handles it badly. Everything is pumped up in order to grab attention, and is usually much less significant when you actually read, from the scientists themselves, what has actually been discovered and what it actually means. We've been a few years away from discovering life on Mars for a long time now, and I hate to say it, but I have a bad feeling that in a few years time we'll still be a few years away.

No, there /is/ liquid salt water on Mars, which /could/ support life. /That's/ not speculative anymore, that's the current state of known facts about Mars as of now, and it fits in with what we've already learned about possible life/history of life there.

It's not just about finding life on Mars either, it's about studying the processes and signatures of life in extreme conditions and further expanding our understanding and expectations of natural organic chemistry. Even if we never find actual 'lifeforms' on Mars, studying a near-Earth 'failed' biosphere gives us valuable insight into the less friendly sectors of our own world, as well as some sense of what to expect if things go very wrong back home or what we might find outside our solar system if we get that far.

VaporWare:

FirstNameLastName:
So there might be salt water on Mars, which might make it possible for life to survive, which might mean life already exists or existed? Hooray, I guess.
In all seriousness, as much as I love science, and the cosmos in particular, I just can't get excited over speculative reporting on scientific breakthroughs. The media just handles it badly. Everything is pumped up in order to grab attention, and is usually much less significant when you actually read, from the scientists themselves, what has actually been discovered and what it actually means. We've been a few years away from discovering life on Mars for a long time now, and I hate to say it, but I have a bad feeling that in a few years time we'll still be a few years away.

No, there /is/ liquid salt water on Mars, which /could/ support life. /That's/ not speculative anymore, that's the current state of known facts about Mars as of now, and it fits in with what we've already learned about possible life/history of life there.

It's not just about finding life on Mars either, it's about studying the processes and signatures of life in extreme conditions and further expanding our understanding and expectations of natural organic chemistry. Even if we never find actual 'lifeforms' on Mars, studying a near-Earth 'failed' biosphere gives us valuable insight into the less friendly sectors of our own world, as well as some sense of what to expect if things go very wrong back home or what we might find outside our solar system if we get that far.

Since liquid water still flows on the surface (albeit only when the temperature warms up enough, if I'm reading thing right) that actually raises a lot of interesting possibilities. I'm actually really curious about the prospect of there being underground aquafirs on Mars. Just because Mars can't host huge amounts of liquid water on the surface doesn't mean it's a dried out dead rock. There could be large amounts of it underground. Maybe even cave systems, or who knows what else.

Tons of interesting possibilities (granted, we'd need to be able to explore in person to find that sort of stuff).

Unfortunately for any future Martians, Mars' soil is pretty toxic to us and any plants we might try to grow in it. It makes the whole endeavour that much more of a challenge.

When the future turns into a body horror movie, people will look back to this moment with a lot of confirmation bias.

Heard about this on CBC. There is the possibility of Martian life being discovered within my life time and I'm happy about that.

Wiggum Esquilax:
No spoilers!

First we drop an actor there, then we find out if he can survive.

You mean MATT DAMON?

This is how it starts people. We were warned!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nq5vZ1I0HAU&list=PLZh-ijTJHOA-auy0nSEQbEGe2idC9K-6e

When we're slaving away in the underground water mines, don't say we weren't warned! :)

Happyninja42:

thaluikhain:

Boris Goodenough:

Gives more attention this way, which NASA sadly needs.

Certainly, I can see why they would do this, it's more or less their only option left, but it's still annoying/embarrassing/depressing.

Considering some of their previous announcements that were spur of the moment, and turned out to be inflated after the evidence had been examined more closely, I think they are taking their time to verify first.

They could always not announce that they have an announcement if they aren't sure they do.

It doesn't mean that we've found life on Mars, or even evidence of life. What it does mean, and this is what's far more important, is that liquid water can exist in an environment like that on Mars. While it doesn't mean anything about life on Mars in particular, it has huge implications for the search of alien life because it means we can significantly broaden our search. It's a really, really big deal.

Interesting. Very interesting indeed. Should be interesting to see what people will make out of this in the long run. Fun new hypothesis' and theories ahoy. :)

"It does not just mean our neighbor once hosted life"

Actually, it doesn't mean that at all. Water does not mean life exists. It means that it might have been possible for life to exist on Mars.

Holy shit, a scientific article on the Escapist that didn't title itself as some form of doom and gloom, pop cultured influenced "Oh shit, now we're all fucked" kind of article?! A regular article!? That simply states the basic facts?! I'm fucking shocked, SHOCKED I say.

Now that I know this and have already watched The Martian, I feel like Matt Damon's character was a bit of an overachiever.

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