Thanks to some new data originating from NASA’s Curiosity rover cruising around on Mars, scientists believe there could be liquid water located just below the surface of the Red Planet.
A new study published in Nature posits that liquid water could be present just below the surface of the planet, which would mean there’s a whole lot more water than we’d initially thought. We already knew there was ice on the planet’s polar ice caps. But now researchers believe Curiosity has discovered evidence of liquid water.
According to Popular Science, the rover has discovered calcium perchlorate in the Martian soil. That’s important because of how perchlorate connects to water, as it can absorb vapor from the atmosphere. The cool part: When it's mixed with water, calcium percholate lowers the freezing point of water — to the point that it could actually remain liquid in the often freezing conditions of the Red Planet.
Here’s how lead researcher Morten Bo Madsen, associate professor and head of the Mars Group at the Niels Bohr Institute, explained the discovery:
"When night falls, some of the water vapor in the atmosphere condenses on the planet surface as frost, but calcium perchlorate is very absorbent and it forms a brine with the water, so the freezing point is lowered and the frost can turn into a liquid."
Though this is obviously an awesome discovery, it likely won’t improve our odds too much of finding life on Mars. Researchers note that the planet is still largely inhospitable due to radiation and temperature, which makes it hard for even microbes to live. But hey, the more you know.
(Via Popular Science)