Researchers at San Antonio's Southwest Research Institute have found new evidence of liquid fresh water on Mars, away from the Red Planet's polar ice caps, 1200 WOAI news reports.


  "It is evidence for water that flows on the surface of Mars, every summer on Mars," Dr. Robert Grimm, who was one of the leaders of the team, told 1200 WOAI news.


  Researchers examined mysterious dark 'finger like' features on steep Martian slopes that appear to lengthen during summer on Mars.  They examined all possibilities, including that the changing features could be a Martian dust storm, but determined that the features were in fact flowing water which is as little as four inches below the surface.


  "It does point to the prospect that there may be little pockets of places where water ice can be hidden at relatively low latitudes," he said.


  Scientists have previously thought that the only significant fresh water on Mars was in the polar ice caps, and that any other significant flowing water on Mars was salt water, which melts at a lower temperature than fresh water.


  The discovery of fresh water on Mars opens the door to several possibilities.  It indicates that any future manned exploration of Mars may not have to bring its own water, and Dr. Grimm says it opens new possibilities for the discovery of traditional life on Mars.


  "That's what we would all like to hope, and that's what's driving NASA's missions a lot," he said.