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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Red and wet

With new evidence of water flowing on Mars, a tantalising possibility comes closer home.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: December 26, 2015 12:10:49 am

The latest release from Fox Studios, The Martian, has got a boost from an unexpected quarter: Nasa. On Monday, Nasa scientists announced that they have convincing evidence, or at least the strongest proof yet, on the presence of water — in its liquid form — on the Red Planet. For long, it has been known that Mars has water, but mostly in the form of ice — over five billion cubic kilometres of it — and some water vapour. But now scientists have been able to certify to a high degree that the streaky formations seen on Martian mountain slopes are the result of the flow of liquid water. These striations become wider in the summer months and gradually fade away when winter comes.

With this latest evidence, the tantalising possibility of Martian life — even just microbial life — has increased. The chances that the Red Planet could host a colony of earthlings in the future turn brighter. Today, Earth is the only planet in our solar system that we know for sure has liquid, flowing water — other planets are known to have subterranean oceans and water vapour in their atmosphere. Though liquid water on Mars’s surface could be volatile, evaporate at about 20 degrees C or freeze easily, it could theoretically be harvested by, say, a visiting astronaut in future.

To be sure, many mysteries remain and the mountainous streaks could well be formed by liquid water too salty and harsh to support life. Yet, this latest evidence brings us one step closer to answering that niggling question: Is there life beyond earth? Meanwhile, The Martian, the movie, which follows an astronaut attempting to survive on Mars after becoming stranded there, has gained a giant advertisement but lost a great sequence.

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