The biggest development yet in the ongoing search for life on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover found very convincing evidence for the presence of water underneath the surface of the red planet.
In a soil sample, the rover identified a type of perchlorate or salt with absorption properties that would permit for the existence of liquid brine in the ground even at well below-freezing temperatures. Despite the arid and cold conditions on Mars, the identified perchlorate has been known to absorb moisture from the air to turn them into liquid, a process called deliquescence.
At the moment, soil samples were taken from near Mars’ equator, which has prompted scientists to think that the deliquescence could be even more prominent in higher altitudes towards the planet’s poles. According to research, the likelihood of this liquid brine’s existence is even greater in certain craters or places of shade during specific nights of the year that have the appropriate weather conditions.
This new report’s lead author, Javier Martin-Torres, said,
“Liquid water is a requirement for life as we know it, and a target for Mars exploration missions […] Conditions near the surface of present-day Mars are hardly favorable for microbial life as we know it, but the possibility for liquid brines on Mars has wider implications for habitability and geological water-related processes.”
Although the presence of these perchlorates has been known for years, it wasn’t until this latest study that scientists were convinced that the Martian environment in certain areas could work with the salts to form water below the surface. Researchers are using this latest discovery for their argument that we need round-the-clock rovers performing constant investigations for this very reason.
— CNET (@CNET) April 14, 2015
The latest discovery from NASA’s Curiosity rover is the best case yet for life on the red planet. Read here!