For Anniversary of Orbiter’s Launch: Seasonal Flows in Mars’ Valles Marineris
These flows are called recurring slope lineae because they fade and disappear during cold seasons and reappear in warm seasons, repeating this pattern every Martian year. The flows seen in this image are on a north-facing slope, so they are active in northern-hemisphere spring. The flows emanate from the relatively bright bedrock and flow onto sandy fans, where they are remarkably straight, following linear channels. Valles Marineris contains more of these flows than everywhere else on Mars combined. At any season, some are active, though on different slope aspects at different seasons.
Future human explorers (and settlers?) will need water to drink, grow food, produce oxygen to breath, and make rocket fuel. Bringing all of that water from Earth would be extremely expensive, so using water on Mars is essential. Although there is plenty of water ice at high latitudes, surviving the cold winters would be difficult. An equatorial source of water would be preferable, so Valles Marineris may be the best destination. However, the chemistry of this water must be understood before betting any lives on it.