Rover Curiosity finds `abundant` water in Martian soil
Washington: The first scoop of soil analysed by the Curiosity rover reveals that fine materials on the Martian surface may contain "abundant" water, Xinhua reported Thursday citing US researchers.
Curiosity touched down Mars last August and began its 100-day mission of collecting and analysing samples of all kinds in Gale crater, which is near the Martian equator, with its high-tech lasers and scoops.
In this study, researchers from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute used the rover`s scoop to collect dust, dirt and finely grained soil from a sandy patch known as "Rocknest".
The researchers then fed portions of the fifth scoop into an instrument onboard Curiosity called the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) to heat them to 835 degrees Celsius.
"One of the most exciting results from this very first solid sample ingested by Curiosity is the high percentage of water in the soil," said lead author Laurie Leshin, dean of science at the institute.
"About two percent of the soil on the surface of Mars is made up of water, which is a great resource, and interesting scientifically," Leshin said.
The sample also released significant carbon dioxide, oxygen, and sulfur compounds when heated, the researchers reported in the journal Science.
Baking the sample also revealed a compound containing chlorine and oxygen, likely chlorate or perchlorate, previously known only from high-latitude locations on Mars. This finding at Curiosity`s equatorial site suggests more global distribution, the researchers said.
In addition to determining the amount of the major gases released, SAM also analysed ratios of isotopes of hydrogen and carbon in the released water and carbon dioxide.
Isotopes are variants of the same chemical element with different numbers of neutrons, and therefore different atomic weights.
The analysis found that the ratio of isotopes in the soil is similar to that found in the atmosphere analysed earlier by Curiosity, indicating that the surface soil has interacted heavily with the atmosphere.
"The isotopic ratios, including hydrogen-to-deuterium ratios and carbon isotopes, tend to support the idea that as the dust is moving around the planet, it`s reacting with some of the gases from the atmosphere," Leshin said.
The results shed light on the composition of the planet`s surface, while offering direction for future research, said Leshin.
"Mars has kind of a global layer, a layer of surface soil that has been mixed and distributed by frequent dust storms. So a scoop of this stuff is basically a microscopic Mars rock collection," said Leshin.
"If you mix many grains of it together, you probably have an accurate picture of typical martian crust. By learning about it in any one place, you`re learning about the entire planet."
These results have implications for future Mars explorers. "We now know there should be abundant, easily accessible water on Mars," said Leshin.
"When we send people, they could scoop up the soil anywhere on the surface, heat it just a bit, and obtain water."
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- UP: Jammu-bound Muri Express derails in Kaushambi
- Five unmanned parachute-like objects spotted over Mumbai airport
- CBSE Board Class 12th Exam Results 2015 declared
- Jaipur girl Mini Rajpal wins Miss India Deaf 2015!
- Dawood's intercepted phone calls prove yet again he is in Pakistan
- One year of Modi govt: How satisfied is the common man?
- Delhi's 2015 CBSE Class 12 topper M Gayatri talks to Zee Media
- Mumbai architecture creates double decker bus from scrap!
- One year of Modi govt: How satisfied is the common man? Part-2
- One year of Modi govt: PM addresses mega rally in Mathura
- No respite from heat for next three days: IMD
- Police registers case after parachute-like objects were spotted over Mumbai airport
- Growing medical negligence in Delhi's AIIMS
- DNA: Sikh man in New Zealand removed his turban to help injured kid
- Watch: Mumbai cops find new secret agents in housewives!
- Heatwave claims over 550 lives so far, Delhi saw hottest day
- Cbse.nic.in & cbseresults.nic.in Class 12th XII Results 2015: CBSE Board Class 12th XII Exam Results 2015 declared
- LIVE - Cbse.nic.in & cbseresults.nic.in Class 12th XII Results 2015: CBSE Board Class 12th XII Exam Results 2015 to be announced shortly
- Check cbseresults.nic.in for CBSE Class 12 result 2015
- IPL 2015 final: Mumbai Indians thrash Chennai Super Kings by 41 runs to lift second title
- Check WBBSE (wbresults.nic.in) Class 12th Results: West Bengal Board (wbscvet.org) Higher Secondary Class XII Vocational Results to be declared today at 4 PM
- Two dead, over 100 injured as Muri Express derails in UP; Prabhu announces Rs 2 lakhs ex-gratia for kin of dead
- Mathura rally: PM Modi slams 'corrupt' UPA regime, lauds NDA govt's efforts in past one year
- PM Narendra Modi's Mathura rally: As it happened
- CBSE Class 12 results out: Here's how you can check
- Public rally on 100 days of AAP govt: As it happened
- CBSE Board 12th XII Results 2015: Cbse.nic.in & cbseresults.nic.in Class 12th XII Exam Results 2015 to be announced today at 12 Noon
- Kejriwal lists AAP govt's achievements of 100 days, slams Centre's 'dictatorial attitude'
- Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party changes its logo
- Unidentified flying objects spotted over Mumbai airport not motorised: Home Department