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NASA Says They've Discovered Evidence Of Water On Mars

(CBS) -- NASA researchers make a game changing discovery on Mars. Everything we thought we knew about the red planet is turned upside down.

"Mars is not the dry, arid planet that we thought of in the past. Today we're going to announce that under certain circumstances liquid water has been found on Mars," said Jim Green, NASA Director of Planetary Science.

The trickle of very salty water shows up on images as damp spots that slowly move downhill. They form in late spring, grow through summer, and disappear by fall. Researchers used data gathered on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to confirm their hypothesis.

"It's very exciting. The implications are even more exciting," said Dr. Mark Hammergren, astronomer, Adler Planetarium.

Michio Kaku, CBS news science contributor said, "This changes everything. Because it means that this liquid water can be used for perhaps, irrigation, drinking water, and even rocket fuel."

Now scientists want to know the source of the water.

"Does it come from under the surface, is it ice melting? Or another leading idea is that it's moisture in the atmosphere of Mars that's condensing on the salty minerals," said Dr. Hammergren.

Either way, this water discovery is a big deal.

"Really big because it vastly increases the chance that there could be for example, microbial life on Mars. And if there's microbial life, who knows what else can exist on Mars. So this is a game changer. It changes the whole scientific landscape," said Kaku.

NASA's mantra for the past decade or so has been to follow the water. Follow any signs of water. Look for water, and there you might just find life.

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