NASA has announced that its most recent Mars rover recently found evidence of substantial water stores present on the planet’s surface billions of years ago. “According to Curiosity’s on-board chemistry lab, the sample is between 20 and 30 per cent smectite, a clay mineral that forms in the presence of water. The instruments also detected minerals indicating that this water was pH neutral and carried substances capable of supplying microbes with energy.” Scientists say that by understanding how life could have developed on Mars, we will reach a better understanding of life’s origins on Earth.
What’s the Big Idea?
Should the rover continue to find evidence of water, our chances of eventually colonizing Mars would improve substantially. Were astronauts able to treat and drink Martian water, a great deal of supplies could be saved from future missions, substantially cutting fuel costs and technological requirements. “But we couldn’t drink Martian water without first knowing what’s in it and how to make it safe, says Philip Metzger from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Now we know Gale crater once had water that was friendly to life, hinting that any underground ice might be too.”