Future Mars explorers may be able to get all the water they need out of the red dirt beneath their boots, a new study suggests.
NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has found that surface soil on the Red Planet contains about 2 percent water by weight. That means astronaut pioneers could extract roughly 2 pints (1 liter) of water out of every cubic foot (0.03 cubic meters) of Martian dirt they dig up, said study lead author Laurie Leshin, of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.
“For me, that was a big ‘wow’ moment,” Leshin told SPACE.com. “I was really happy when we saw that there’s easily accessible water here in the dirt beneath your feet. And it’s probably true anywhere you go on Mars.” [The Search for Water on Mars (Photos)]
The new study is one of five papers published in the journal Science today (Sept. 26) that report what researchers have learned about Martian surface materials from the work Curiosity did during its first 100 days on the Red Planet.