Mars is just full of surprises lately.
For a really long time, we categorized Mars as an utterly lifeless wasteland. But, recently, we started discovering some water under the surface. We thought that was quite the discovery, but, it turns out, there's a lot more happening than what's beneath the surface.
Recent studies suggest that there's something the ballpark of two pints of liquid water in each cubic foot of Martian soil. That is a lot, especially for a planet we thought was a dusty, red ball of death.
This was discovered by the Curiosity Rover. Dean of Science at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Laurie Leshin, explains.
We heat [the soil] up to 835C and drive off all the volatiles and measure them. We have a very sensitive way to sniff those and we can detect the water and other things that are released.
Leshin confirmed that, “When we send people, they could scoop up the soil anywhere on the surface, heat it just a bit, and obtain water.”
Thus far, however, there has been no evidence of organic molecules in the soil. So Mars isn't yet the most life-giving of planets. But, in this case, where there's water, there's hope. And perhaps this will signifiy a meaningful beginning for us to seriously consider getting our proverbial asses to Mars someday.