For a long time scientists have wondered about streaks they were seeing on Martian slopes. Devin Waller, who works for the California Science Museum used to work on the Mars Rover Project. For three years she studied the Martian surface working on a safe place for rover "Curiosity" to land.
She's thrilled scientists have strong evidence now that those streaks are actually flowing water kept liquid by perchlorates in the water. That makes the water not good for us earthlings if we were on Mars, but it represents another possibility that they are be some form of life on the red planet even if it might be very small.
Leslie Tamppari is Deputy Project Scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project. That's the orbiter that took the latest images of the streaks. Spectrometers were used to determine what is in the streaks and that's how they determined the water was salty due to the perchlorates.
Says Tamppari, “My understanding is that there are some organisms that could make use of the perchlorate at a nutrient. So, it’s possible but we don’t have any detection of that yet.”
But, the thought to many at JPL where NASA's Mars program is supervised is tantalizing. “People are super excited about this,” Tamppari says.