Water is a key factor in the possibility of the existence of life on Earth. Scientists continue to unravel the mystery of life on Mars, exploring the ways in which there can be water in the soil of the red planet.
Previous observations of the soil along the slopes of the craters on the surface of Mars, showed a considerable number of salts of perchlorates class which are commonly associated with brines of moderate pH.
However, in the new study, the researchers decided to look at the problem of water in the Martian soil wider, basing his research data collected with the assistance of the spacecraft of 2001: Mars Odyssey, named after the famous sci-Fi novel by Arthur C. Clarke “2001: a Space Odyssey”, and found that the key to solving the mystery of water on Mars can be another chemical compound.
The researchers found that the loose soil on the surface of Mars at the scale of regions of the planet, the square of which is comparable with areas of the territories of the largest countries of the Earth probably contains sulphates of iron chemically bound water, which usually leads to the formation of acidic brines. These new observations indicate that sulfates of iron can play a big role in the hydration of the Martian soil.
These findings were made using the Gamma Ray Spectrometer, or GRS, orbital Mars unit 2001: Mars Odyssey, whose sensitivity is so high that allows to “penetrate” into the Martian soil to a depth of half a meter.
Compared to other missions, both orbital and missions operating on the surface of the planet, this depth study of Martian soil is unprecedented.