Scientists are inching closer to answering the age-old conundrum of whether there is or was life on Mars.
Now NASA has announced they are reasonably certain some changing surface features on the red planet are the movement of glaciers, the possibility of life.
As one of the Earth’s closest celestial neighbours, clues about how life on this planet is abundant, but not on those relatively close in galactic terms would help scientists work out the probabilities for life existing in some form on other more distant planets.
The evidence, says NASA, comes from several high definition photographs taken by satellites
Physical confirmation is required, which could see an unmanned module despatched to drill into the surface to see if the thin, white streaks in the images really are ice.
Scientists have always deemed water has to exist to promote life on any planet.
However, even if the presence of water on Mars does not show life is also supported, the bonus is water gives exploring astronauts access to a valuable resource that does not have to be transported to the planet to aid setting up a base camp.
The conclusion that Mars has water took four years of painstaking research to uncover.
Scientists carried out series of different levivard.com tests that all seemed to point at the surface of Mars being shaped by flowing water at some time.
Indeed, scientists reckon the planet has frozen ice caps that partially melt in the summer and suspect frozen or even liquid water is trapped underground.
The first signs of water on Mars were spotted in 2010 by post graduate student Lujendra Ojha, who was one of the first to notice the white streaks on the surface of the planet.
“It was a lucky accident,” he said. “I had access to the NASA data while at university and noticed the changes on the surface and tested them with infrared and visible light to see how they absorbed light.
“Different materials have their own absorption properties and the characteristics of this material seemed to be similar to water. This gave the impetus to carry out more tests and here we are finally confirming we believe there is water on Mar.
“Now we have to prove the theory by physically finding water, but that might take some while to get a module in place to drill down and see what really is there.”