The search for water on Mars is inextricably linked with any and all research relating to the possibility that life ever inhabited Earth’s neighboring planet. After all, life, as we understand it, requires water to develop. If scientists can detect liquid water on Mars, given the evidence that it might have once been there, then it’s much more likely that the remains of ancient life could be found on the dead planet.
A new paper co-authored by Caltech graduate student Eva Scheller and published in Science Magazine posits that much of Mars’ ancient water is likely trapped beneath its surface. This research points to the high amount of moisture in the soil of the planet, detected by probes sent by NASA.
“The hydrated materials on our own planet are being continually recycled through plate tectonics,” says Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. “Because we have measurements from multiple spacecraft, we can see that Mars doesn’t recycle, and so water is now locked up in the crust or been lost to space,” the researcher concluded.