Even Google couldn't help but celebrate the incredible news that liquid water has been found on the surface of Mars.
The Google Doodle for today (Sept. 29) features an adorable animation that gives a nod to the incredible news that liquid water flows on the Red Planet.
In the short video, a cartoon-character version of Mars is shown slurping down a big glass of water. The expression on the Red Planet's face is one of surprise — as if it didn't know anyone was watching. But scientists have had their eyes on Mars for a long time.
The liquid water on the surface of Mars is not in the form of rivers or lakes — instead, the water can be found soaking Martian hillsides, appearing as dark streaks called "recurring slope lineae" (or RSL), that were first identified in 2011. The water is mixed with a particular family of salts called perchlorates, which have the ability to absorb water from the air and create a salt-water mixture (a process called deliquescence). NASA scientists suggested that this finding increases the likelihood that Mars is habitable; it might also be possible for astronauts to use the water for drinking.
Google has a history of highlighting space-related science with its daily doodles. Previous doodles have focused on the historic flyby of Pluto by NASA's New Horizons mission, the ongoing comet encounter by the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission, the Perseid meteor shower and the birthday of pioneering astronomer Annie Jump Cannon, to name a few.
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Calla Cofield joined Space.com's crew in October 2014. She enjoys writing about black holes, exploding stars, ripples in space-time, science in comic books, and all the mysteries of the cosmos. Prior to joining Space.com Calla worked as a freelance writer, with her work appearing in APS News, Symmetry magazine, Scientific American, Nature News, Physics World, and others. From 2010 to 2014 she was a producer for The Physics Central Podcast. Previously, Calla worked at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (hands down the best office building ever) and SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California. Calla studied physics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and is originally from Sandy, Utah. In 2018, Calla left Space.com to join NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory media team where she oversees astronomy, physics, exoplanets and the Cold Atom Lab mission. She has been underground at three of the largest particle accelerators in the world and would really like to know what the heck dark matter is. Contact Calla via: E-Mail – Twitter