Flowing water could help NASA receive the funding needed for a manned Mars mission

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NASA scientists are bubbling over about what they believe is on the red planet: flowing water. In the movie "The Martian," Matt Damon plays an Astronaut stranded on Mars, who manages to do the impossible: he grows food on the cold, desert planet. 

The impossible is no longer that. It has Houston Museum of Natural Science Planetarium Astronomer James Wooten eating his words. 

“I've always said mars is too cold and the air is too thin for water,” says Wooten, “now I have to revise that saying that water does exist for short periods in local summertime.  Every time you overturn a well-established concept in science it's revolutionary.”

Wooten is not alone in his excitement over news that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided evidence that there is liquid water flowing on mars.

NASA Director of Planetary Science Jim Green says, “Everywhere we go where there's water...we find life. This is tremendously exciting”

While studying  streaks that form on slopes in late spring, and disappear by fall, NASA was able to locate salts composed of chlorine and oxygen called perchlorates, trapped within these salts was water. 

Maribeth Wilhelm says, "our findings strongly suggest these recurring slope linea are formed by liquid water on present-day Mars."

On Mars, pure liquid water is highly unstable.  Unlike on Earth, where it boils at 100 degrees Celsius,  it boils at just 10 degrees.  Nut perchlorates  increase the stability of water on Mars, causing it to remain liquid to -70 degrees Celsius, and to boil at 24 degrees. If Astronauts go to Mars, they could potentially utilize that water.

John Grunsfeld. Science Mission Directorate for NASA says, “Soon, I hope we will send humans to the red planet to explore.”

It would be a two year mission: six months there, a year on the planet, and 6 months back. 

But motivation is now stronger than ever.  And there is speculation that the water discovery will generate pressure on Congress to find a way to fund it, with support from Americans who recall all the benefits that going to the moon provided to humankind.