NASA Announcement on Mars Mystery

 NASA Announcement on Mars Mystery

NASA will announce a significant scientific finding about Mars (seen here in true color) in a press briefing on 28 September 2015. (NASA)

NASA will announce a significant scientific finding about Mars (seen here in true color) in a press briefing on 28 September 2015. (NASA)

Upcoming Press Briefing

NASA has scheduled a press briefing for Monday, 28 September 2015, to detail a “major science finding” about Mars. Is it confirmation of water on the planet? Microbial life? Or something more unexpected, perhaps concerning the spectacularly odd rock formations Mars claims?

There has been much speculation on the nature of the finding, with everyone scrambling for clues from discussions of recent findings. Inverse agrees that the composition of the press briefing contingent may give a clue: it includes Dr. Alfred McEwen, the principal investigator of HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), and Lujendra Ojha, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

A graduate student at a NASA briefing?

As an undergraduate, Ojha discovered the narrow, finger-like dark streaks called recurrent slope lineae (RSL) that appear to descend from the higher areas of Martian slopes. The RSL appear to be seasonal; they appear, grow larger, and fade, often over a period of weeks, and they appear most often on warm, equator-facing slopes. Many planetary scientists believe this activity may indicate a volatile substance, such as briny waters, interacting with the surface. On The Planetary Society website, you can see an image tracking RSL formation and regression with the seasons.

Arrows point to recurrent slope lineae (RSL) on bedrock of Palikir Crater of Mars, possibly indicating water flow to surface (NASA)

Arrows point to recurrent slope lineae (RSL) on bedrock of Palikir Crater of Mars, possibly indicating water flow to surface (NASA)

What Could it Be?

Has NASA confirmed the presence of water on Mars? Might this be an indication of running water below the surface of the planet? If so, how large might the body of water be, and how far could it extend under the surface? The presence of substantial water is one of the strongest indications for the possibility of life; if Mars has a significant amount of water, the possibility for microbial life, at least, is given a boost.

But then, perhaps it is not about water at all. Perhaps Ojha, working with Dr. McEwen and HiRISE,  has found yet another important feature of the Martian world. With more frequent imaging, and better image resolution, who knows what will be coming into focus as the planet continues to be explored?

You can follow the briefing on NASA TV.

What do you think NASA is going to announce? What do you think about the possibility of life on Mars?

Join the discussion! Comment here, share on Facebook, and on Twitter (hashtag #DMTalk).

 

Staff Writer

Leo Ashcraft

A retired broadcast engineer, talk show host, news reporter - I have done everything there is to do in the radio broadcast business. I worked a year in television. I left that as my true passion has always been radio - plus I got tired of hearing - you have a face for radio.. I hope you enjoy my articles! Be sure to share them excessively on facebook - like our page and bug your friends with invites!

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4 Responses

  1. Ted Reimann says:

    The CEO of Volkwagen hiding!? Or maybe confirmation of some form of life.

    • says:

      Mars probably isn’t far enough away for the (past) CEO of VW right now! I’m betting the announcement is about water, but that doesn’t necessarily mean life, of course.

  2. Anon says:

    Another one of these *rolls eyes* its probably a new type of rock that sends them into a flurry. They will NEVER, repeat NEVER announce anything to do with ‘Life’. It breaks the mythology created for us by the powers that be. If its found, it certainly wont come from NASA or the USA.

    • says:

      Well, looks like it is going to be about water (unless they are throwing up a wonderful smokescreen). We’ll have to wait and see if they go farther than dipping a toe into the briny Martian ocean…

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