There’s flowing water on Mars.

There, finally, after years of theory, it’s done. Scientists found frozen water on Mars (scientific name: ice) in 2008, but on Monday, NASA announced that instruments on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter provide strong evidence that salt water flows down some Martian mountains each summer.

So just what does that mean? First, this:

“Our quest on Mars has been to ‘follow the water,’ in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we’ve long suspected,” John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a web post. “This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water — albeit briny — is flowing today on the surface of Mars.”

“We now know Mars was once a planet very much like Earth with warm salty seas and fresh water lakes.”

Ah, the briny waters of Mars.

But the confirmation that water flows on Mars means much more. Water, as you learned in second grade, is essential to life. So while we thought the Red Planet was cold, dry and dead, the discovery of flowing water means there could well be life on the planet.

Even more, the finding supports a case for a space mission by man. Water could be key for such a mission to the planet, and making water — simple, just combine two hydrogen atoms with an oxygen atom — is not only difficult, it’s incredibly dangerous. Now, though, astronauts could simply desalinate the existing water, a far easier step.

And life, at least much of planet earth’s life, also need salt (scientists say the discovery of salt on Mars also points to the possibility of life there, microscopic or otherwise). At least the space travelers could season their bland microwave meals.

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NASA theorizes that there was once enough water on Mars to cover the entire surface in a 450-foot-deep layer of water. But then, something happened. The planet, with a gravity of just 1 percent that of Earth, lost its water, and the extreme cold meant little could live there. But now, we know that one thing might just be able to live on Mars: Man. NASA, start the countdown.

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“We now know Mars was once a planet very much like Earth with warm salty seas and fresh water lakes,” Jim Green, planetary science director at NASA, said at a news conference. “But something has happened to Mars. It lost its water.”

Said Grunsfeld: “I think all of the scientific discoveries we’re making on the surface of Mars … these observations are giving us a much better view that Mars has resources that are useful to future travels.”