The search for water on Mars has been a long and arduous journey, but a very rewarding and fulfilling one. Less than 50 years ago, scientists could only speculate about the presence of water on the Red Planet. These days, scientists have found multiple pieces of evidence that water firstly – did exist on Mars – and secondly – still does exist. The discovery of the polar ice caps was one of the first confirmations of water on the planet, albeit in frozen form. Fast-forward a few years and scientists found evidence of more frozen water below the surface (closer to the equator) and even flowing salty water on the planet’s surface. (Also, excitingly, scientists believe there are channels on Mars where water ten times greater than the average discharge of the Amazon River, the largest on Earth, was discharged.) The search for water on Mars is a worthwhile endeavor, largely because where there’s water, life has the possibility to exist. In search of that, the year 2020 will see a new NASA rover take off from Earth to look for evidence of life formerly existing on the planet. For these and other exciting facts about H20 on Mars, strap on your spacesuit because here are 25 Facts About Water on Mars.
The first credible assumptions of water on Mars
The first assumptions of water on Mars came from photographs sent by Mariner 9, the first spacecraft to orbit another planet, in 1971. The pictures appeared to show dry river beds and canyons, leading scientists of the time to speculate about water on the planet.
The first evidence of liquid water on Mars
For decades, scientists were trying to confirm the current existence of liquid water on Mars. Their breakthrough came in 2000 when gullies appeared which were likely made by liquid water flowing across the planet’s surface.
Mars has likely harbored life
Scientists studying Mars have found that billions of years ago the planet’s climate was rather warm and humid, even partially covered by rivers and oceans.
Water escaped into space
Due to Mars’ thin atmosphere, its weak gravitational force (due to its small size) could not hold all the water on the planet’s surface. As the planet warmed and liquid water evaporated, it was increasingly lost into space.
There is still saltwater on Mars
Scientists have used high resolution images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify streaks which change with the seasons. The dark lines have led astronomers to conclude they are made by salty liquid water on the planet’s surface.