Mars, otherwise known as the Red Planet, is a dry and barren place with no clear signs of life. There have been several signs of liquid water on the planet, the latest being a weird and dark streak NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter came across not too long ago.
Should liquid water ever be found on Mars, it would be a huge deal. This is because researchers could locate potential life forms and resources that can be used to make lives better for humanity.
However, nothing is ever what it seems at times. As it turns out, researchers are saying, there isn't enough water via those dark streaks as previously hoped. Furthermore, researchers are almost certain that whatever is there, it's not drinkable.
To make matters worse, researchers claim the amount of water on Mars cannot exceed that of Earth's driest desert. That's a huge blow to anyone hoping to come across huge swaths of liquid water on the Red Planet's surface.
How do scientists come to the conclusion that there isn't much water on the surface of Mars? Well, they used Mars Odyssey's Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) to monitor the planet's surface from orbit. This is done remotely of course.
We understand that whenever water is available between the grain of sand and soil, the temperature on the ground does not heat up as quickly compared to when there's no water available. The deeper the seeps, the more cloistered the ground becomes. Furthermore, after years of analyzing the data from THEMIS, NASA scientists concluded that the soil could only hold just 3 percent of water.
That's basically similar levels of dryness found in the driest desert on our planet, the Atacama Desert.
"Our findings are consistent with the presence of hydrated salts, because you can have hydrated salt without having enough for the water to start filling pore spaces between particles," said Christopher Edwards, a faculty member in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Northern Arizona University, in a statement. "Salts can become hydrated by pulling water vapor from the atmosphere, with no need for an underground source of the water."
What does this mean?
Well, we may have to cease from hoping of ever finding large amounts of water on Mars if these findings turn out to be completely accurate. And with that, it also means we may have to do away with any thought of eve finding life on the planet. Just a little bit of water can be home to life, but the prospects of finding life truly rest on finding large amounts, and this is becoming highly unlikely as time goes by.
Photo: Kevin Gill | Flickr