Space agency NASA has excited space fans across the globe with the news it is set to announce a “major science finding” that solves a mystery about Mars.
A panel of five high-profile scientists will participate in the news conference at NASA’s headquarters in Washington tomorrow (from 1:30am AEST), which will also be streamed live online.
Speculation has been rife online with many hoping for the news to outline details of the discovery of life on the Red Planet.
A Reddit user posted a link to a journal abstract and predicted the announcement will offer evidence that briny water flows have been observed on Mars.
It is a view shared by astronomer Dr Alan Duffy, who told ABC News Breakfast it was one of the worst kept secrets in space history.
“The panel is made up of all the [people who do] experiments on water on Mars,” Dr Duffy said.
“So I think it’s safe to assume that that is what we will be talking about.
“We’re not talking much water. We’ve seen streams or streaks on the surface of Mars, so during the summer months we get some melting apparently happen.”
Dr Duffy said he assumed the announcement was about the claims dark streaks seen on Mars were caused by melting ice mounds below the planet’s surface.
“We didn’t know what they were,” he said.
“We thought they might be water and salty water.”
NASA has invited Twitter users to ask questions by using the #AskNASA hashtag.
NASA’s Mars exploration program literally got off the ground with the 1964 launch of Mariner 3, the first spacecraft charged with the mission of carrying out a flyby of Mars.
Mariner 9 became the planet’s first artificial satellite in 1971 when it successfully arrived and went into orbit almost six months after being launched.
The next mission to successfully reach the planet operated in orbit and outlasted its planned mission more than fourfold was Mars Global Surveyor which created a rich repository of before-and-after images and an “unprecedented” global topographic map.
In 2006, before-and-after imagery revealed new 20 impact craters that had been formed within a seven year period.
The spacecraft also found evidence that the planet once had a global magnetic field like that on Earth.
Phoenix, in May, 2008, was the most recent craft to land on Mars. The craft, armed with solar panels and a meteorological station, landed on the planet’s north polar region with a mission to analyse the icy soil.
NASA has bipartisan support for its well-funded plans to send people in the Orion spacecraft to Mars in the 2030s — a planet the space agency said was rich for scientific discovery.
“Its formation and evolution are comparable to Earth, helping us learn more about our own planet’s history and future,” NASA said on its website.
“Mars had conditions suitable for life in its past.
“Future exploration could uncover evidence of life, answering one of the fundamental mysteries of the cosmos: Does life exist beyond Earth?”
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