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[i]Images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), a camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), have revealed thousands of narrow, dark streaks that appear on some of Mars's steep slopes during warmer seasons.
The streaks appear on equator-facing slopes in the mid-latitudes of the southern hemisphere, and can grow by as much as 20 metres a day. Temperatures in this part of the planet can rise as high as 27ºC during warm seasons. That's easily warm enough for water to exist, especially if it contains salts, which lower the melting temperature of ice. By winter, the streaks have faded or vanished.
HiRISE principal investigator Alfred McEwen, a planetary scientist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, thinks that the most likely explanation is that the streaks are formed by briny water oozing downhill in small, steep channels.
He says that the streaks are the strongest evidence yet for the existence of liquid water on Mars today. "This can focus the search for extant life on Mars," he says. He and his colleagues [URL=http://www.sciencemag.org/content/333/6043/740]report their findings[/URL] today in Science.[/i]
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