NASA confident of life on Mars after discovering water on the planet

US space agency NASA says liquid water has been observed on the planet Mars.

NASA’s planetary science director Jim Green told a press conference Mars is not the dry, arid planet they once thought.

“Under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found on Mars,” Mr Green said. Scientists have long speculated that there may once have been life on the Red Planet.


The presence of liquid water makes it possible that life could currently exist there, NASA said.

“The really exciting thing about this is that our view of this ancient Mars, and the possibility of life originating on Mars, had been really about seeking chemical fossils of possible past life on Mars,” said astronaut John Grunsfeld, who is also associate administrator of NASA’s science mission directorate.

“The existence of liquid water on Mars — even if it’s super salty briney water — gives the possibility that if there’s life on Mars we have a way to describe how it might survive.”

With several missions to Mars already in the planning stages, the question of whether there’s life on the planet is now “a concrete one we can answer,” Grunsfeld said.

The presence of water will also make it easier to send a manned mission to Mars, which NASA aims to do in the 2030s.

“To be able to live on the surface, the resources are there,” Grunsfeld said.

Water is “critical” he said, but the planet also offers other key elements like nitrogen which could be used to grow plants in greenhouses and the types of salts that could be used to make rocket fuel.

Scientists have long believed that water once flowed across the Red Planet and formed its valleys and canyons, but a major climate change about three billion years ago changed that.

“Today we’re revolutionising our understanding of this planet,” Green said.