Major NASA announcement incoming, hints liquid water on Mars

28 Sep 2015

Seasonal frost found near Mars's polar caps. Image via NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

NASA are expected to make a major announcement about a discovery on Mars that some are claiming could be the discovery of liquid water on the planet’s surface.

While some have joked that the major NASA announcement scheduled for around 4pm Irish time is to announce the discovery of Mark Watney, the character in the upcoming film The Martian, more serious suggestions about its content are suggesting a more liquid breakthrough.

According to the NASA announcement page, which is understandably vague on what the actual news is, among those to be present at the briefing will Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.

This is the greatest indication that we are expecting an announcement of water as Ojha has been one of the prominent researchers who has been analysing the surface of the red planet for signs of water for the last number of years.

Using the Mars High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board the Mars Orbiter, Ojha had suggested as early as 2011 that there were at least possible signs that suggested liquid existed on Mars.

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It has been known for some time, however, that frozen water existed in the polar regions of the planet, but that the possibility of life existing in the frozen liquid was unlikely.

According to The Boston Herald, the former head of NASA’s Mars programme, Doug McCuistion, said that if they are to announce the existence of liquid water on Mars, it will have huge ramifications for our understanding of potential life in our solar system.

“If they’re announcing that they’ve found easily accessible, freely flowing liquid water under the surface – which is one of the theories we’ve been hearing for years and years – that has massive implications both for the potential for life on that planet and sustainability of humans.

“That would be highly enabling and might be the game-changing trigger for both finding life and hurrying up and getting people to Mars.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic