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The features themselves are called recurring slope lineae (RSL) and take the form of dark finger-like lines progressing down the Martian slopes. The flows are not found all around the planet, and only seem to occur during the hotter seasons. It has also been observed that the features are more prevalent some years than they are in others, and this in turn makes them more difficult to predict and sample.
The observations sent back by the orbiter show seasonal variations in iron minerals on slopes where RSL appear. Researchers such as Lujendra Ojha, a graduate student at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, are currently searching for minerals left in the wake of these RSLs via spectral analysis, in an attempt to further understand the features.
Unfortunately there were no elements of the spectral analysis which pointed to the presence of water or salts in RSL, but revealed instead a higher than normal concentration of ferric and ferrous minerals.
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