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Originally published December 6 2006

NASA announces surveyor spacecraft may have found evidence of flowing water on Mars

by Ben Kage

(NaturalNews) Pictures taken by the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft present evidence that there is currently liquid water flowing on the surface of the Red Planet, NASA scientists say.

Water ice and water vapor have already been shown to exist on Mars' surface, and there has long been evidence of liquid water having flowed across Mars' surface billions of years ago. Scientists believe that the images sent by MGS show layered terrains that they suspect were left by water deposits below an ice layer or ancient shallow seas. However, it was assumed that the current atmosphere of Mars was so thin that any water on the surface would quickly freeze or evaporate. Indeed, in the first pictures of Mars taken in the 1960s and those sent from the MGS in August of 1999, the canyon showed no signs to the contrary.

Then, after the surveyor passed over the same spot in September of 2005, its pictures showed what appeared to be deposits of brackish water trickling from beneath the surface in the 3,700-mile-long Valles Marineris canyon. Theoretically, the lower parts of Mars -- which are several miles below the average surface level -- would have slightly higher atmospheric pressure and could possibly support salty water, the scientists said in the findings, published in the journal Science. The walls of at least two other deep craters -- Terra Sirenum and the Centauri Montes regions of southern Mars -- also show similar signs of liquid water.

"These observations give the strongest evidence to date that water still flows occasionally on the surface of Mars," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, Washington, in a statement on the NASA web site.

"The shapes of these deposits are what you would expect to see if the material were carried by flowing water," said Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, the principle investigator for the camera and lead author of the Science report. "They have finger-like branches at the downhill end and easily diverted around small obstacles."

The deposits appear as light-toned streaks running several hundred yards. NASA scientists theorize that the light tone could be caused by surface frost being continually replenished by ice within the deposit, or that the water is concentrating the salts and leaving a crust. The scientists do not think the deposits were left by dry dust slipping down the slope, as the Mars rovers, dust devils and fresh craters on the surface have always left dark tones of dust.

"These fresh deposits suggest that at some places and times on present-day Mars, liquid water is emerging from beneath the ground and briefly flowing down the slopes," Malin said. "This possibility raises questions about how the water would stay melted below ground, how widespread it might be, and whether there's a below-ground wet habitat conducive to life. Future missions may provide the answers."

These future missions will now revolve around exploring the depths of the canyon. As liquid water is necessary to support life, scientists say, the evidence presented by the pictures raises interesting implications about the possibility of microbial life on Mars.

"We should follow the water," NASA's chief told the science committee of the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Despite the implications of this new evidence, some are not surprised by it. The evidence that water had flowed on Mars in the past had long ago led to the theory that it still existed in liquid form below the surface.

"I've long stated that there is not only water on Mars, but life on Mars, including microbial life and probably some form of plant life," said Mike Adams, author of "The Top Ten Emerging Technologies for Humanity," available at "In fact, I believe that NASA has had proof of water on Mars for quite some time, but has been reluctant to announce it due to political reasons.

"Finding water on Mars almost guarantees finding life on Mars, and if there's life on Mars, there's probably life on literally billions of planets found just in our own galaxy," he said. "There are many people who are uncomfortable acknowledging the fact that life on Earth is not unique to the universe."

Adams' previous articles on the subject of water on Mars are found at the following addresses:;;;;;


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