gizmodo: It’s not just flowing; it’s also boiling. And that discovery also solves one of the major mysteries about the surface of the red planet. by Ria Misra
'The results of a new experiment published today in Nature Geoscience detail how scientists made the finding and what it means. Researchers built a chamber simulating the conditions and atmosphere of Mars, then put ice in there to melt. The ice did melt and the water from it flowed—but there was also a surprise. The surface of the water boiled as it flowed, and that boiling was strong enough to move not just the water but also dirt and debris surrounding the streams. Importantly, temperature was not the major factor in this boiling water, it was due to the pressure of the atmosphere.
'“The atmospheric pressure on Mars is very low compared to that on the Earth, which means that water boils at a much lower temperature than it does on Earth,” co-author of the paper, Susan Conway, told Gizmodo. “On the Martian surface the pressure is five to 10 millibars meaning that liquid water boils no matter what the temperature is.”
'But, surely if the surface of Mars had boiling water etching out its plains, we would have seen it in more than just experimental conditions, right? That’s where the most exciting part of the research comes in. It turns out, we’ve already seen it happen. We just didn’t know what we were looking at.'