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Water likely flows on Mars

Photo: Kenneth Edgett, a scientist at Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego, Calif., gestures during a news conference at NASA Headquarters in Washington, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006 to discuss the possibility that liquid water flowed on the surface of Mars as recently as several years ago, raising the possibility that the Red Planet could harbor an environment favorable to life. [AP]

Dec 07, 2006
LOS ANGELES - New photographs from space suggest that water occasionally flows on the frigid surface of Mars, raising the tantalizing possibility that the Red Planet is hospitable to life, scientists reported Wednesday.

The new images, taken by NASA's Mars Global Surveyor before it lost contact with Earth, do not actually show flowing water. Rather, they show changes in craters that provide the strongest evidence yet that water coursed through them as recently as several years ago, and is perhaps doing so even now.
"This is a squirting gun for water on Mars," said Kenneth Edgett, a scientist at San Diego-based Malin Space Science Systems, which operates a camera on the Global Surveyor.
The news excited scientists who hunt for extraterrestrial life. If the finding is confirmed, they say, all the ingredients favorable for life on Mars are in place: liquid water and a stable heat source.
In all of its Mars exploration missions, NASA has pursued a "follow the water" strategy to determine if the planet once contained life or could support it now.
Scientists believe ancient Mars was awash with pools of water. And at present-day Mars' north pole, researchers have spotted evidence of water ice. But they have yet to actually see water in liquid form.

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