One can only imagine the exquisite desert oasis that awaits tourists on the planet Mars. Well, it looks as if we’ve taken another important step toward the possible colonization of the Red Planet. Apparently, water exists within the soils of Mars.
According to a recent NASA report published in ‘Science’, the Curiosity Rover has discovered that Martian soil contains about 2% of water. This is very good news for those of us who wish to live fruitfully on Mars, let alone build a couple of Starbucks on the planet.
For each cubic foot of Martian soil, two pints of liquid water exists.
However, this doesn’t mean future colonists should go sticking straws into Martian soil just yet. The water molecules are bound to other molecules within the dirt. Therefore, it’s going to take some finessing (i.e. chemistry) to separate the molecules. But, as Martians say, let’s cross that bridge when we get to it.
So, how did NASA figure out water was within Martian soil? Well, we have our little buddy Curiosity to thank. Curiosity took soil from a Martian site known as Rocknest. The rover was able to heat the soil to 1,535 degrees Fahrenheit (835 degrees Celsius) to allow the gases to burn off. Once the dirt was broken down, Curiosity found that the soil contained carbon dioxide, oxygen and sulfur compounds, in addition to water molecules.
This water isn’t completely safe for humans to drink. Researchers found perchlorate in the soil. Perchlorate is the salt found in perchloric acid that is commonly used to treat thyroid disorders. However, if your thyroid works just fine, being exposed to perchlorate probably won’t bode well.
So, we still have a few kinks to work out before colonizing Mars. However, this unearthing (for lack of a better word) of water is an amazing discovery that could prove very beneficial as we learn more about the universe around us.