Author Topic: Curiosity Finds Water In Martian Soil  (Read 1606 times)

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Curiosity Finds Water In Martian Soil
« on: September 29, 2013, 02:04:51 AM »
´The Mars rover Curiosity dominates this week’s edition of peer-reviewed journal Science with no less than five papers published revealing some key findings that the rover has made about the Red Planet. Perhaps the most interesting which is the discovery that there is water present in the soil on the Martian surface.

Photo of where Curiosity scooped its Martian soil samples. (Credit: NASA/JPL)

Over the course of its mission, Curiosity has tested over 139 different soil sites in its travels. Using an X-ray instrument in the rover, scientists found two primary kinds of soils. A more crystalline soil like traditional minerals, but also an amorphous component – similar to those seen in volcanic deposits on Earth.

The soils were also studied by Curiosity‘s SAM instrument, which determined the chemical composition of the Martian soil by heating the samples to about 835 degrees Celsius and then observing the gasses released. They found a number of gasses, including water, and determined that the water is bound to the amorphous soil type.

“Water abundance (1.5 to 3 weight percent) and release temperature suggest that H2O is bound within an amorphous component of the sample,” the researchers wrote in their paper.
Curiosity Finds No Sign Of Methane On Mars Alex Knapp Alex Knapp Forbes Staff

“The ratio of hydrogen isotopes in water released from baked samples of Rocknest soil indicates the water molecules attached to soil particles come from interaction with the modern atmosphere,” added researcher Laurie Leshin in a statement.

These findings from Curiosity comport with previous observations of Mars from orbit that indicated there might be water bound to the Martian surface. And Martian rovers Curiosity and Opportunity have both found evidence that water flowed on the Martian surface millions of years ago.