NASA’s exploration of Mars has paid off in a major way, as scientists believe they have found liquid water on the planet’s surface.

Today at 11:30 EST, NASA made a major announcement about Mars, claiming that a major mystery about the red planet has finally been solved.

Like any self-respecting nerds, we were of course waiting with bated breaths for the truth — was it aliens? Fresh water? Mark Watney? — and we were not disappointed by NASA’s big announcement.

Scientists revealed a study today claiming that there are, “definitive signs of liquid water on the surface of present-day Mars,” according to the NY Times.

The presence of water is hugely significant in terms of the likelihood of discovering life, of any form, on another planet. It might also have implications for humanity’s ability to one day colonize Mars (we know, it feels like we’re living in a sci-fi novel. And we love it!).

Mars surface

Image credit: NASA

In the NASA press conference, it was explained that dark streaks running through Mars’ “salty hills” suggest seasonal flows of salt water on Mars. New technology has allowed scientists to discover “briny liquid water” on the planet’s surface.

Related: The discovery of “Earth’s cousin” Kepler-452b is a sci-fi nerd’s dream come true

NASA’s Journey to Mars has been underway for years, and plans are in motion to send humans to Mars as early as 2030. How will the presence of water affect NASA’s plans? We’ll have to wait and see!

Present for the press conference today were Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters, Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA Headquarters, Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, Mary Beth Wilhelm of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and Alfred McEwen, principal investigator for the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Conveniently, this announcement comes just days before the premiere of Ridley Scott’s The Martian, which is out in theaters on October 2!

Considering NASA’s enthusiasm for the movie, which is based on the book by Andy Weir, we can’t help but wonder at the timing of this announcement. (Hey, what would a space news story be without a good conspiracy theory?)

Are you surprised that there very likely could be water on Mars?

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