Water has been found on Mars, according to measurements taken by Nasa’s Curiosity rover.
The space agency’s probe found the liquid in the Martian soil. The water isn’t free-flowing but bound with materials in the dirt and made accessible after heating to high temperatures.
Analysis revealed Martian dirt is approximately 2 per cent water, meaning there are about two pints of water per cubic foot, or enough “to take to the gym.”
Nasa scientists say the water could help sustain Martian explorers in the future.
Laurie Leshin, lead author of the study, published in the journal Science, said: “This dirt on Mars is interesting because it seems to be about the same everywhere you go. If you are a human explorer, this is really good news because you can quite easily extract water from almost anywhere.
She said that if you take “a cubic foot of this dirt and you just heat it a little bit – a few hundred degrees – you’ll actually get off about two pints of water – like two water bottles you’d take to the gym.“
This was just one of the highlights from a series of five papers published in the journal Science on Thursday.
Today water only exists on the planet as ice, in the form of polar ice caps, under the shallow Martian surface. However this isn’t the first indication that there was once flowing water on Mars.
Analysis in March revealed clay minerals in the soil that suggested at one point in the planet’s history there was flowing water. Tests on the heated rocks revealed elements of sulphur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon – all key chemicals for sustaining life as we know it.
The next step for the Rover is to drill down in these once ‘wet’ places to see if they were habitable and if there was once any life on the red planet.
The papers released yesterday also detailed further analysis of the soil and also looked at a volcanic rock called ”Jake_M“, after late Nasa engineer Jake Matijevic. The structure of the rock, which has been buffeted by the winds of Mars into the shape of a pyramid, is said to be similar to a mugearite. This is a type of rock found on islands and rift zones on Earth.