According to a paper released today from nature.com, liquid water on mars is most likely a reality that happens more frequently than previously expected.
The paper entitled “Transient liquid water and water activity at Gale crater on Mars” discusses the findings in detail. Scientists say that thin films of water form when salts in the soil, called perchlorates, absorb water vapor from the atmosphere.
Though the temperature of salty water is about -70C , which is too cold to support life as we know it, this finding means that just beneath the surface of mars there could be chemical process conducive to biological chemistry.
After bringing together data from multiple sources including the Rover Environmental Monitoring System (REMS), the Dynamic Albedo of Neutrons (DAN) and the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument, the scientists were able to all but verify their findings.
While one might think that liquid water would form at warmer temperatures, the formation of brines is the result of an interaction between temperature and atmospheric pressure. It happens that the sweet spot for formation of these liquid films is at colder temperatures.
The fact that the scientists see evidence for these brines at the Martian equator – where conditions are least favourable – means that they might be more persistent at higher latitudes, in areas where the humidity is higher and temperatures are lower.
In these regions they might even be present all year round.