Here’s a recap of some of this summer’s greatest hits in space news that you might have missed:
Water on Mars
Dark streaks as summer flow features in Newton Crater, Mars. (Credit: NASA)
In an utterly tantalizing development, scientists analyzing imagery from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have announced what appears for all the world to be direct evidence of water on Mars!
Because the MRO has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2006, it has been able to view the same portions of the world at different times of year with an eye toward spotting any potential seasonal changes. This past August, the MRO team reviewing this growing dataset hit paydirt.
Specifically, the team identified dark streaks on the slopes of steep terrain in the southern hemisphere that are found during Martian spring and summer; these features disappear during Martian winter only to return once again the following spring.
While there are multiple possible explanations, the most likely amongst them appears to be the flow of briny (salty) groundwater that warms in the hotter months, breaches the surface, and evaporates/sublimates as it flows downhill.
Time will tell on this one, but all eyes should be on the possibility of ...