By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer
During Spring here on Earth, plants sprout from the ground and grow pretty flowers. On Mars, however, April showers definitely do not bring May flowers. Instead, a new study published in Nature Geoscience suggests that ’tis the season for water to bubble up from the Martian crust.
Back in 2011, scientists spotted what appeared to be dark, water-like streams across the usually dry Mars surface. Scientists called the streaks “recurring slope lineae” (RSL), and even though they were just a few feet wide, they ran on for more than half a mile. “There is a lot more water near the surface at the equator of Mars than anyone expected or really knows how to explain,” says Alfred McEwen, the lead researcher on the project. Now, scientists have spotted similar streaks in different parts of the Red Planet, some of which provide a suitable place for life to exist!
The researchers first thought the RSL came from leftover ice created by a wet environment, but this new study found the moisture stains in dryer, hotter parts of Mars. For this reason, scientists believe that water is bubbling up from deep inside the Red Planet’s crust. “This does not fit anybody’s model of the water cycle on Mars,” McEwen says. “This is a surprise, and we’re still being surprised by what we see on Mars. There’s clearly a lot more that we have to learn.”
For now, researchers will use the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft to monitor the activity and possibly find the source of water on the red rocky planet.
Images courtesy of NASA.