Tech

NASA: Water molecules found in Martian soil

Josh Peterson Tech Editor

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has revealed that the Mars Curiosity rover has found ample evidence of water in the soil of the Red Planet.

According to an announcement by the space agency on Thursday, NASA revealed that soil samples taken by the Mars Curiosity rover contained water molecules “bound to fine-grained soil particles, accounting for about 2 percent of the particles’ weight at Gale Crater where Curiosity landed.”

Liquid water is considered a prerequisite for consideration of whether Mars once held, or currently holds, life.

“The rover is equipped with a laser instrument to determine material compositions from some distance away,” said NASA officials wrote in a statement.

“This instrument found that the fine-particle component in the Rocknest drift matches the composition of windblown dust and contains water molecules, said Brown and Webster.

“The rover tested 139 soil targets at Rocknest and elsewhere during the mission’s first three months and detected hydrogen — interpreted as water — every time the laser hit fine-particle material,” they said.

The compound was already known to exist frozen in the Red Planet’s polar ice caps, as well as at shallow depths underneath the surface of the planet. Water vapor was also discovered in the clouds in Mars’ atmosphere.

Follow Josh on Twitter and Facebook