Report

Seasonal Flows on Warm Martian Slopes

Science  05 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6043, pp. 740-743
DOI: 10.1126/science.1204816

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Abstract

Water probably flowed across ancient Mars, but whether it ever exists as a liquid on the surface today remains debatable. Recurring slope lineae (RSL) are narrow (0.5 to 5 meters), relatively dark markings on steep (25° to 40°) slopes; repeat images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment show them to appear and incrementally grow during warm seasons and fade in cold seasons. They extend downslope from bedrock outcrops, often associated with small channels, and hundreds of them form in some rare locations. RSL appear and lengthen in the late southern spring and summer from 48°S to 32°S latitudes favoring equator-facing slopes, which are times and places with peak surface temperatures from ~250 to 300 kelvin. Liquid brines near the surface might explain this activity, but the exact mechanism and source of water are not understood.

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