The potential reality of life beyond Earth received an immense breakthrough on the morning of Monday, September 28th when scientists at NASA announced the previous discovery of what appears to be running water on the surface of Mars.

The integral force of life on Earth was long-sought after by scientists in the very early stages of exploring Mars, our closest planet in the solar system. The dark streaks identified in the photo above are of recurring slope lineae, which are caused on warmer parts of the planet by salty water.

Speaking with Space.com, Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, a lead author on the revealing new study, said, "Liquid water is a key requirement for life on Earth. The presence of liquid water on Mars' present-day surface therefore points to environment[s] that are more habitable than previously thought."

The streaks indicated are usually fairly narrow, from half a meter to five meters wide, but often course hundreds of meters downward. Because the slopes appear during warmer temperatures around the planet's equatorial regions, the prevailing evidence indicates that those slopes must contain water. However, this isn't to be confused with flowing streams, as the recurring slope lineae are just "thin layers of wet soil," says study co-author Alfred McEwen of the University of Arizona. The study can be read now via the Nature Geoscience journal.

Fellow study co-author Mary Beth Wilhelm, of NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California adds that the presence of water, "may decrease the cost and increase the resilience of human activity on the Red Planet. Looking forward, it is imperative for us to further understand the source of the water for these features, as well as the amount."