Curiosity May Find Water Below Martian Surface

By  //  August 3, 2012

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Counters Earlier Theories

BREVARD COUNTY • CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – Scientists who have been studying rocks from Mars say the Red Planet contains huge storehouses of internal water.

The surface of Mars is dry now, but scientists believe huge bodies of water lie deep below the planet's surface. (Shutterstock image)

And perhaps the new Curiosty Rover landing on Mars in the next few days will be able to find further evidence of Martian moisture.

And the amount of that buried Martian water could rival that beneath the Earth’s surface, according to a report published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

This new information counters previously held theories, which suggested that the internal water supplies of Mars were scare despite evidence that water flowed freely on Martian soil millions of years ago.

One scientist believes volcanoes are the main reason why water reached the Martian surface.

Previous  estimates

“It’s been puzzling why previous estimates for the planet’s interior have been so dry,” said Erik Hauri of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “This new research makes sense and suggests that volcanoes may have been the primary vehicle for getting water to the surface.”

He said scientists have examined two Martian meteorites that formed under the planet’s crust and were recovered on earth.

The meteorites are about 2.5 million years old and were sent hurtling out into space by a collision of Mars and an asteroid before landing on earth.

Erik Hauri is one of the authors of a new report about Martian water. (Image courtesy Carnegie Institution of Washington)

Like earth

By employing secondary ion mass spectrometry on the meteorites, scientists found that the layer of Mars from where the meteorites originated contained between 70 and 300 parts per million of water, similar to that of the earth.

“The results suggest that water was incorporated during the formation of Mars and that the planet was able to store water in its interior during the planet’s differentiation,” Hauri said.

And Hauri said some of that water traveled to the surface of Mars in the distant past.

NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity Martian rovers have found plenty of evidence that Mars was much wetter and a great deal hotter billions of years ago.