New Curiosity Rover data shows Mars has liquid water, not just ice

By Nikhil Pradhan | Published 14 Apr 2015 12:21 IST
  • Salty water is formed in the Martian soil during winter nights thanks to ideal temperatures and humidity.

New Curiosity Rover data shows Mars has liquid water, not just ice
New Curiosity Rover data shows Mars has liquid water, not just ice

The Curiosity Rover has discovered evidence that liquid water exists on Mars. This breakthrough discovery contradicts the previous belief that water only exists on Mars in the form of ice deposits that never melt. The Curiosity Rover has found damp soil in the Gale crater on Mars thanks to a salt in the soil that makes it harder for water to freeze and lowers the freezing temperature of water to -70 degrees celsius.

Measurements taken by the Curiosity Rover in the Gale crater show that the salty water is formed at night during Martian winters when the temperature and humidity is ideal. The Guardian quotes Morten Bo Madsen, a Mars scientist at the University of Copenhagen, “The soil is porous, so what we are seeing is that the water seeps down through the soil. Over time, other salts may also dissolve in the soil and now that they are liquid, they can move and precipitate elsewhere under the surface.”

However, this discovery still doesn’t aid the possibility of Martian life thanks to the high levels of solar radiation on Mars coupled with the extreme dryness, even though the surface temperature at the Martian equator reaches a pleasant 20 degrees celsius at noon. Scientists had previously found evidence of flowing rivers on Mars and suggested that Mars had an earth-like magnetic belt and thick atmosphere four billion years ago.

The Curiosity Rover made Martian landfall on August 6, 2012 in the Gale crater, a land formation that’s 154 kms in diameter which was created over 3.5 billion years ago. You can read the Mars scientists’ findings here.

Source: The Guardian
Main image source: Flickr, NASA Jet Propulsion Lab

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Nikhil Pradhan
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