Eureka! Evidence of water has been discovered beneath Mars surface, The Guardian reports. But this doesn’t mean that we’ll be finding aliens there any time soon.
Evidence of ice deposits had been previously discovered. But the evidence of liquid water on Mars has been elusive until now. Previously, the consensus was that the climatic conditions on the red planet were too cold and arid for liquid water to exist. But this new evidence refutes all of that.
“The evidence so far is that any water would be in the form of permafrost. It’s the first time we’ve had evidence of liquid water there now.” says Professor Andrew Coates, head of Planetary Science at the Mullard Space Science Laboratory.
These new findings indicate that the soil on Mars is damp. It contains brine due to high concentrations of a salt that drastically lowers the freezing point of water. During the martian winter, temperatures are just cold enough for the liquid brine to materialize.
“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.” says Morten Bo Madsen, a senior Mars scientist at the University of Copenhagen and a co-investigator on the Curiosity rover.
But this new evidence of water on Mars doesn’t necessarily mean that the planet can support human life, or any type of life for that matter. Water is essential for survival, but it’s not the only factor that’s important. Mars is still considered inhospitable to life for a number of reasons.
Life on Earth is protected by an electromagnetic field that blocks harmful radiation from the sun. This type of force-field is not present on Mars. Scientists believe Mars once had a similar electromagnetic field, but it disintegrated over four billion years ago.
Today, sunrays pierce one meter into Mars’ atmosphere which would annihilate even the hardiest organisms on Earth.
The evidence of water on Mars was discovered by NASA’s Curiosity rover, a car-sized robotic rover that has been exploring the Gale Crater on Mars. It’s a key part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission.
According to a paper published in Nature, an academic scientific journal, instruments aboard Curiosity also measured for evidence of subsurface water as well. Reports suggest that liquid water was absorbed from the air and the surface frost by the salty soil