A soil analysis on Mars by the Curiosity rover has turned up a surprising amount of water, as well as a chemical that will make a search for life more complicated, scientists said.A scoop of fine-grained sand collected by the rover shortly after its August 2012 touchdown showed the soil contains about 2 percent of water by weight.”It was kind of a surprise to us,” Curiosity scientist Laurie Leshin said.”If you take a cubic foot of that soil you can basically get two pints of water out it.
PASADENA, Calif. – A pair of new papers report measurements of the Martian atmospheres composition by NASAs Curiosity rover, providing evidence about loss of much of Mars original atmosphere.Curiositys Sample Analysis at Mars SAM suite of laboratory instruments inside the rover has measured the abundances of different gases and different isotopes in several samples of Martian atmosphere. Isotopes are variants of the same chemical element with different atomic weights due to having different numbers of neutrons, such as the most common carbon isotope, carbon-12, and a heavier stable isotope, carbon-13.SAM checked ratios of heavier to lighter isotopes of carbon and oxygen in the carbon dioxide that makes up most of the planets atmosphere. Heavy isotopes of carbon and oxygen are both enriched in todays thin Martian atmosphere compared with the proportions in the raw material that formed Mars, as deduced from proportions in the sun and other parts of the solar system. This provides not only supportive evidence for the loss of much of the planets original atmosphere, but also a clue to how the loss occurred.