A Recurring slope lineae, or dark, thin, 100-meter-long lines moving downhill on Mars, are thought to have been produced by current flowing water.
At Hale crater, planetary scientists recently discovered hydrated salts on these slopes, confirming their original notion that the streaks are created by liquid water.
The blue tint visible upslope of the black streaks is assumed to be due to the presence of the mineral pyroxene, rather than their creation.
The picture was created by draping an orthorectified (IRB) false colour image (ESP 030570 1440) over a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the same site created by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (University of Arizona).
Exaggeration in the vertical axis is 1.5. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona are the sources for this image.Image and description in its entirety. The findings in this news release have been updated with new research released on Nov. 20, 2017, and explained in “Recurring Martian Streaks: Sand or Water?”
The greatest evidence yet that liquid water flows occasionally on present-day Mars comes from NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
Researchers used an image spectrometer on MRO to find hydrated mineral fingerprints on slopes where strange streaks may be observed on Mars.Over time, these darker streaks appear to ebb and flow. During the summer, they deepen and appear to flow down steep slopes, but disappear in the winter.
When temperatures rise above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 degrees Celsius), they occur in many spots on Mars, then vanish at lower temperatures. In our hunt for life in the cosmos, our mission on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ and now we have persuasive data that confirms what we’ve long assumed,” said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
“This is an important finding since it appears to demonstrate that water, albeit briny, is flowing on Mars’ surface now.”These downhill flows, known as recurrent slope lineae (RSL), have been linked to liquid water in the past.The recent discovery of hydrated salts on the slopes suggests a possible link to these dark markings.
The hydrated salts would reduce the freezing point of a liquid brine, similar to how salt on roadways accelerates the melting of ice and snow on Earth.It’s most likely a modest subterranean flow, with enough water wicking to the surface, according to scientists to explain darking . The hydrated salts were only discovered when the seasonal characteristics were at their broadest, implying that the hydration comes from either the black streaks themselves or a mechanism that creates them.
“In either instance, the presence of hydrated salts on these slopes indicates that water is important in the creation of these streaks,” said Lujendra Ojha of Atlanta’s Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), lead author of a research on the results published Sept. 28 in Nature Geoscience.
In 2010, while a University of Arizona undergraduate student, Ojha observed these perplexing patterns in photos from the MRO’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).RSL has now been discovered in hundreds of locations on Mars thanks to HiRISE studies.
HiRISE views are combined with mineral mapping by MRO’s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars in this new research (CRISM). At many RSL locations, the spectrometer measurements reveal hydrated salt signals, but only when the dark features are somewhat broad.
The researchers found no hydrated salt when they looked at the same places where RSL were not as abundant.The spectral characteristics, according to Ojha and his co-authors, are created by hydrated minerals called perchlorates. Magnesium perchlorate, magnesium chlorate, and sodium perchlorate are the most likely hydrated salts to match the chemical fingerprints.
Even in temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit, certain perchlorates have been found to protect liquids from freezing (minus 70 Celsius). Perchlorates are naturally formed in deserts on Earth, and some forms of perchlorates can be utilised as rocket fuel. Perchlorates have been discovered on Mars before.
They were discovered in the planet’s soil by NASA’s Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover, and some scientists believe they were measured by the Viking missions in the 1970s.However, perchlorates, now in hydrated form, were discovered in places other than those examined by the landers in this RSL investigation.This is also the first time perchlorates have been discovered in space.
MRO has been studying Mars with its six research equipment since 2006.
“The ability of MRO to observe for multiple Mars years with a payload capable of seeing fine detail of these features has enabled findings like these: first identifying the puzzling seasonal streaks and now taking a big step toward explaining what they are,” said Rich Zurek, MRO project scientist at NASA‘s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. The latest observations, according to Ojha, provide additional evidence that the mystery lines he initially noticed staining Martian slopes five years ago are, in fact, present-day water.
“When most people on Mars talk about water, they typically mean old or frozen water,” he explained.”We now know there’s a backstory to the storey. This is the first spectrum evidence that our liquid water production ideas for RSL are correct.”The finding is the latest in a long line of successes for NASA’s Mars missions.
“We now know there is liquid water on the surface of this frigid, dry planet,” said Michael Meyer, principal scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at the agency’s headquarters in Washington.
“It appears that the more we study Mars, the more we understand about how life may be sustained in the future and where there are resources to support life.” Mary Beth Wilhelm of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, and Georgia Tech; CRISM Principal Investigator Scott Murchie of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland; and HiRISE Principal Investigator Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona Lunar and Planetary Laboratory in Tucson, Arizona, are among the eight co-authors of the Nature Geoscience paper.
The Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and the Laboratoire de Planétologie et Géodynamique in Nantes, France, are among the others.
For NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project is managed by the agency’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
The orbiter was manufactured by Lockheed Martin, and it is operated by JPL.