Water on Mars was discovered by a heavy metal guitarist

Scientist was not so long ago ripping solos at local shows in Tucson, Arizona

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The Independent Culture

When not discovering water on Mars and completing a Ph.D at Georgia Tech, student Lujendra “Luju” Ojha can be found shredding guitar.

The Arizona-born student, who dialled in to Nasa’s momentous press conference on Monday as he is credited with discovering flowing salt water on the planet, is only 25 and not too long ago played in an experimental metal band called Gorkha.

“Yeah, that was an old life," Ojha confessed with a laugh to CNET. "I was kind of in poverty with music. I wasn't making enough money so I said screw music, let's go to science, maybe there's more money in it. But there isn't money in science either.”

You can see him playing guitar at a local show below, and listen to the band’s old demos here.

mars.jpg
Dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks called recurring slope lineae flowing downhill on Mars, inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water

Ojha made the huge discovery after devising a new technique to analyse photos from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

"The discovery of RSL [recurring slope lineae, the name for the lines of flowing salt water seen on Mars] was kind of like my undergraduate thesis when I was at the University of Arizona," he explained.

Of course, his fondness for metal should come as no surprise, and the stereotype of starchy, buttown-down shirt Nasa types is slowly being broken down thanks to people like Ojha, “Nasa Mohawk Guy” Bobak Ferdowsi and loud shirt-wearing ESA scientist Dr Matt Taylor.

Fittingly, the image Nasa released illustrating Mars' water flow (above) looks a lot like the artwork for a tech metal album.

@christophhooton

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