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Does water on Mars mean alien life?

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Grand Forks, ND (WDAZ-TV) - Well there may not be little green men on Mars.

Or anywhere… that we know of.

It Doesn't mean there isn't life even in our own solar system. A major announcement from NASA today said they believe there is liquid water on Mars, one of the key ingredients for life.

“If we find enough water in the right condition. Then that possibly mean that life has arose on Mars itself,” UND astrophysics professor Wayne Barkhouse said.

“We're seeing annual changes, annual being the year on mars, changes in those markings. Conducive to the fact that there is some type of water on the surface,” Barkhouse said.

These markings scientists are seeing are not new.

“But there was always a controversy because you could also reproduce those markings from the flow of carbon dioxide,” Barkhouse said.

But these new images have ended the debate on what those markings are.

“What they determined was there is signs of salt that are on the surface. So what is happening is when the water evaporated it deposited the salt, that's in the water, on the surface,” Barkhouse said.

One of the many reasons why this discovery is so important, is because if it's determined life is sustained on mars, even tiny bacteria, it could offer new theories on how life on earth began.

“There's actually meteorites that land on the surface of the earth that are ejected rocks from the surface of Mars,” Barkhouse said. “Life could have rose on Mars first and then contaminated the earth and then started here.”

Barkhouse wants you to know that the water on Mars isn't like the water here.

“The water that we're seeing here is so salty, life wouldn't survive there as far as we know,” he said.

But, don't think we're all alone.

“It's a numbers game. It's statistics. It was only a few decades ago that the only planets we knew of the whole universe are the ones that make up our solar system, the 8 planets,” Barkhouse said. “If you look at the total number of stars in our Milky Way galaxy, hundreds of millions of stars and then think about the number of galaxies that's in our universe, which could be infinite, it’s at least hundreds of billions if not infinity that number... that's a lot of planets. And what is the chance of life arising of only one of those planets out of literally trillions and trillions and trillions?”

Ryan Laughlin

Ryan Laughlin joins your home team from Minnetonka, Minnesota. Ryans journalism career started in high school. He was the sports editor of his high school newspaper. Then, at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire he made the jump into broadcasting. Ryan started a hunting and fishing show called, EC Outdoors on the student-run TV station. He is excited to be living in a town thats as enthusiastic about hockey as he is and likes to hunt and fish when he has time. Hes a die-hard Minnesota sports fan and is glad to be out of Packer country.

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