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Hopes raised of life on Mars as Nasa announces finding

By Nevin Farrell

Nasa is preparing to unveil a 'major finding' today that has raised speculation that it may have found signs of life on Mars.

Stargazers are eagerly awaiting the announcement this afternoon at the space agency's headquarters.

Nasa will gather experts to its headquarters in Washington for a briefing where it promises to announce it has solved a huge mystery surrounding the Red Planet.

Nasa's previous announcements have revealed ground-breaking findings, such as that in July of the discovery of Earth-life planet Kepler-452b outside the solar system.

As the excitement builds, one suggestion is that experts will announce the discovery of microbial life on the planet but a more likely scenario is evidence of flowing water.

That theory was given a boost by new that scientist Lujendra Ojha, of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, will attend the Nasa announcement.

He first came up with the theory that Mars has liquid salt water flowing through it during warmer months.

Water is one of the key requirements for life and such a discovery would significantly boost chances of alien beings on Mars.

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Mysterious features on Mars 'caused by flowing water' 

Until this year it was thought Mars was too cold to host water and it just had ice. But in April it was discovered the soil was damp with liquid brine, which lowers the freezing point.

That discovery came from Nasa's four-wheel drive Curiosity Rover which is currently probing the barren landscape of the planet.

Last month the Curiosity, which has been based on the Red Planet for three years, found rocks a metre under the surface containing up to four times as much water as previously thought.

There has also been satellite images of what looked like an old riverbed, with round pebbles indicating flowing water was once there.

Recent images from Curiosity also showed dark and basaltic rocks on the planet, leading to speculation the planet may have even once been covered with water - making it biologically closer to our world.

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