There really is no liquid water on the surface of Mars, said an international research team after examining meteorites found on the red planet.
In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, the researchers detailed their findings, pointing out that the Martian meteorites lack rust, which indicates the planet is extremely dry and has been like that for millions of years.
Rust And Moisture Formation
An earlier study that used data gathered by the Mars Curiosity Rover after investigating the Gale crater suggested that there exists the possibility that extremely salty liquid water may be able to condense in the upper layers of soil on Mars overnight.
For their work, the researchers used data from the Mars Opportunity Rover, examining a meteorite cluster located at the Meridiani Planum, a plain at a similar latitude as the Gale crater and situated south of Mars' equator. They calculated for the chemical weathering rate on the red planet to determine how long it would take for rust to form on the meteorites' metallic iron components.
Based on their findings, it would take between 10 and 10,000 times longer for Mars to reach the same rate of rust formation that the driest deserts on Earth are capable of, and it looks like the extreme aridity they observed has persisted on the red planet for millions of years.
Christian Schröder, one of the authors of the study, acknowledged that Mars was once wet and supported life, but evidence points to this as existing more than 3 billion years ago. He said that their research supports earlier reports of just how barren and dry Mars' current environment is.
"For life to exist in the areas we investigated, it would need to find pockets far beneath the surface," he added.
These pockets would be able to sustain life because they are shielded away from the radiation and dryness that persisted on Mars' surface.
Search For Life On Mars
Schröder and his colleagues' work is just one of the many that have been initiated not only to better understand Mars, but also to determine if life on the red planet existed. Recently, this search for life on Mars brought scientists to Hawaii's Mauna Ulu, where a series of simulations will be carried out as part of the preparations for manned missions to Mars in the future.
The simulations will test out technologies and develop procedures that will aid in identifying, collecting and protecting samples collected from Mars that may potentially host life.
Researchers from NASA's Biologic Analog Science Associated with Lava Terrains (BASALT) mission will be in Mauna Ulu for two weeks.