Flowing Water on Mars? Groundbreaking NASA Discovery Was Just Sand and Dust Avalanches

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In September 2015, NASA made a groundbreaking announcement—that Mars had liquid water flowing on its floor.

Now, a workforce of scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has reinterpreted their findings and say the floor options are, in reality, more likely to be avalanches of sand and dirt.

Their examine, revealed within the journal Nature Geoscience, re-examines the preliminary information from NASA that regarded on the Recurring Slope Lineae, or RSL. This space is a slim, sloping floor the place the options seem like darker than the remainder of their environment. They have been discovered to fade and reappear at common intervals, returning in the course of the warmest time of the yr.

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11_21_mars NASA picture of “flowing water” on Mars. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

This led scientists to consider they represented liquid water flows—ice would soften because the solar warmed the seemingly barren Red Planet.

When the streaks have been first found, NASA astronaut and affiliate administrator John Grunsfeld stated: “Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected. This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water—albeit briny—is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

The announcement generated large pleasure on the time—the implications of such a discovering elevated the probability that life as soon as existed, and nonetheless might exist, on Mars.

The newest findings sprint such hopes. “We’ve thought of RSL as possible liquid water flows, but the slopes are more like what we expect for dry sand,” USGS scientist Colin Dundas, lead creator of the brand new examine, stated in an announcement. “This new understanding of RSL supports other evidence that shows that Mars today is very dry.”

Findings confirmed the RSL slopes are an identical to areas the place the motion of sand dunes causes these options to seem. The scientists say water is very unlikely to be accountable—the quantity of water required doesn’t correspond to what the info is displaying. Plus they are saying it’s extremely unlikely that water is just produced on the prime of slopes—it must also seem on decrease slopes too.

11_21_mars water flow Mars water flows re-identified as mud and sand. NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

The findings don’t rule out the opportunity of liquid water on Mars and that it might play a task within the motion of mud and sand—doubtlessly initiating the avalanches the scientists counsel are accountable for the options.

Jim McElwaine, from the Planetary Science Institute and co-author on the paper, stated: “The RSL on Mars behave in a similar way to laboratory experiments on Earth. What is still not understood is where the supply of fresh material comes from, though we do have some speculative ideas.”

Dundas added: “We’ve thought of RSL as possible liquid water flows, but they seem to act more like dry sand. This suggests that the surface of Mars is quite dry today.” The RSL seem seasonally, and seem to exist solely on Martian slopes steep sufficient for dry grains to descend as they do on faces of energetic dunes.

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