Now, adding to the growing literature on possibility of alien life on the Mars, new research from NASA's Mars rover Curiosity shows that it is possible that there is liquid water close to the surface of Mars.
The explanation is that the substance calcium perchlorate has been found in the soil which lowers the freezing point so the water does not freeze into ice, but is liquid and present in very salty salt water - a brine.
"We have discovered the substance calcium perchlorate in the soil and, under the right conditions, it absorbs water vapour from the atmosphere. Our measurements show that these conditions exist at night and just after sunrise in the winter," said Morten Bo Madsen, head of the Mars Group at the Niels Bohr Institute at University of Copenhagen.
Like throwing salt onto ice to melt it, calcium percholate lowers the temperature at which water freezes and would allow it to exist in liquid form even on the frozen surface of Mars. The temperature on the surface of Mars varies between -195 F (-125 C) in winter to 70F (20C) in summer.
|Water is sucked into salts on the surface of Mars where it can stay liquid. Source: University of Copenhagan|
Based on measurements of humidity and the temperature at a height of 1.6 metres and at the surface of the planet, scientists can estimate the amount of water that is absorbed.
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When night falls, some of the water vapour 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.
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," Madsen said.
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