Thanks, science! NASA discovery of water on Mars was actually sand

An announcement by NASA in 2015 that liquid water had been found on Mars was premature, according to new research.

At a news conference that year, NASA’s director of planetary science declared: “Liquid water has been found on Mars.” Scientists reasoned that water must be present on the red planet to explain mysterious darkish streaks that appeared to ebb and flow with the seasons.

However, while there is water on Mars – existing on the polar caps, ground ice, as well as in frosts and hydrated minerals – the evidence suggesting larger volumes of liquid water is ambiguous, according to researchers from the US Geological Survey.

The planet Mars taken by the NASA Hubble Space Telescope when the planet was 50 million miles from Earth
(Pictured: Not really water on Mars)

In a new paper published in Nature Geoscience, they claim that Recurring Slope Lineae (RSL) in Eos Chasma, a deep depression on the planet, are “inconsistent with models for water sources”.

The researchers – working in cooperation with the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Project – found that the RSL were instead “identical to the slopes of sand dunes where movement is caused by dry granular flows”.

This HiRISE image cutout shows Recurring Slope Lineae on Mars in enhanced color. The narrow, dark flows descend downhill (towards the upper left). Analysis shows that the flows all end at approximately the same slope, which is similar to the angle of repose for sand.​​​​​​​ Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/USGS. Public domain.​​​​​
(Pictured: HiRISE image cutout showing RSL on Mars in enhanced colour. Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/USGS)

“Water almost certainly is not responsible for this behaviour, which would require the volume of liquid to correspond to the length of slope available, producing more liquid on longer slopes. Instead, the 151 RSL examined by the study authors all end on similar slopes despite very different lengths.”

Source: SKY News