Confirmed: There's Water On Mars

Analysis of the first scoop of topsoil picked up by NASA's Curiosity rover reveals a composition that includes two percent water. It could mean one less worry for future human visitors. 

Confirmed: There's Water On Mars

What's the Latest Development?


A sample of Martian topsoil scooped by NASA's Curiosity rover last year and put into its onboard chemical laboratory has been found to contain water in quantities totaling two percent of its composition. The lab, named Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM), used several instruments, including a mass spectrometer, to determine the makeup of the sample after it had been heated to just over 1,500° Fahrenheit. In addition to water, the sample contained perchlorates, which are toxic to humans but could be used as an energy source by certain kinds of microbes, further extending the possibility of life. Several papers describing Curiosity's findings were recently published in Science.

What's the Big Idea?

The data collected by SAM and Curiosity's other instruments "greatly advance our understanding of surface processes and the action of water on Mars," says SAM principal investigator Paul Mahaffy. Two percent of water may not seem like a lot, but for future missions, it could mean a great deal, says paper lead author and Rensselaer professor Laurie Leshin. "When we send people, they could scoop up the soil anywhere on the surface, heat it just a bit, and obtain water."

Christopher Halloran / Shutterstock.com

Read it at Discovery News

‘Designer baby’ book trilogy explores the moral dilemmas humans may soon create

How would the ability to genetically customize children change society? Sci-fi author Eugene Clark explores the future on our horizon in Volume I of the "Genetic Pressure" series.

Surprising Science
  • A new sci-fi book series called "Genetic Pressure" explores the scientific and moral implications of a world with a burgeoning designer baby industry.
  • It's currently illegal to implant genetically edited human embryos in most nations, but designer babies may someday become widespread.
  • While gene-editing technology could help humans eliminate genetic diseases, some in the scientific community fear it may also usher in a new era of eugenics.
Keep reading Show less

Octopus-like creatures inhabit Jupiter’s moon, claims space scientist

A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.

Jupiter's moon Europa has a huge ocean beneath its sheets of ice.

Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SETI Institute
Surprising Science
  • A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
  • Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
  • The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Keep reading Show less

Lair of giant predator worms from 20 million years ago found

Scientists discover burrows of giant predator worms that lived on the seafloor 20 million years ago.

Bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).

Credit: Jenny – Flickr
Surprising Science
  • Scientists in Taiwan find the lair of giant predator worms that inhabited the seafloor 20 million years ago.
  • The worm is possibly related to the modern bobbit worm (Eunice aphroditois).
  • The creatures can reach several meters in length and famously ambush their pray.
Keep reading Show less

What is the ‘self’? The 3 layers of your identity.

Answering the question of who you are is not an easy task. Let's unpack what culture, philosophy, and neuroscience have to say.

Videos
  • Who am I? It's a question that humans have grappled with since the dawn of time, and most of us are no closer to an answer.
  • Trying to pin down what makes you you depends on which school of thought you prescribe to. Some argue that the self is an illusion, while others believe that finding one's "true self" is about sincerity and authenticity.
  • In this video, author Gish Jen, Harvard professor Michael Puett, psychotherapist Mark Epstein, and neuroscientist Sam Harris discuss three layers of the self, looking through the lens of culture, philosophy, and neuroscience.
Keep reading Show less
Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast