NASA sent space speculation to the outer limits with a press release simply titled, “NASA to Announce Mars Mystery Solved.”
The release promised “a major science finding from the agency’s ongoing exploration of Mars” that will be announced at a press conference on Monday at 11:30 a.m. ET at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Scheduled to participate in the press conference are five scientists, including Georgia Tech grad student Lujendra Ojha.
Nobody knows exactly what the space agency will announce, but some have speculated that Ojha’s attendance means NASA could be set for a breakthrough announcement: flowing water on Mars.
What could a grad student have to do with what would surely be one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the millennium?
Back in 2011, Ojha, then an undergrad at the University of Arizona, was using images taken over time by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to study gullies near a Martian crater.
When he used a computer algorithm to remove distortions such as shadows, he noticed something strange.
As it turned to summer on Mars, lines appeared near the crater that looked like flowing water. When the season started changing back to winter, the lines disappeared.
“When I first saw them, I had no idea what it was. I just thought it was a streak made by dust or something similar,” he told CNN back in 2011. “It was a lucky accident.”
You can see the discovery for yourself here.
Ojha eventually turned his discovery into a co-authored paper in the research journal Science.
His Arizona professor and a co-author on that paper, Alfred McEwen, is also scheduled to be at the NASA press conference Monday.
Image via NASA