“We’ve found it,” said Michael Meyer, NASA’s lead scientist on their Mars Exploration Program. “Water seems to have flowed on the surface of today’s Mars.” Philip Christensen, a professor from Arizona State University in Tempe, added that the discovery would change NASA’s plans for Mars exploration, not to mention our understanding of the desert world itself.
Mars Global Surveyor, whose extended mission came to an end last month following a power failure, captured the images while tracking changes in geography over a period of years. Dry gulleys, previously through to have held water no more recently than millions of years ago, were found to have filled between observations.
Certain tasks remain, according to the panelists. For example, a spectrographic analysis of the “white stuff,” to prove that it is definitely water. These might be carried out by the Mars Reconnaissance orbiter, recently arrived in order to replace the aging Global Surveyor. [read on]