Water found on Mars, not just in ice caps
Published: Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, October 22, 2013 00:10
The Curiosity rover discovered water in soil samples on Mars, according to NASA .
Tonya Triplet, a senior lecturer in the physics department, said the discovery is both exciting and disappointing.
“We have many reasons to believe that water might be the best indicator that life could exist on a world,” Triplet said.
Searching for water is most often the primary focus of space explorations because life has a connection with water.
“Searching for water has the goal of almost every exploration ever sent, particularly to Mars, but everywhere else as well,” she said.
However, it is important to remember that the presence of water does not necessarily mean life exists, Triplet said.
“We seek water for the possibility for the existence of life as opposed to evidence that life exists,” she said.
When searching for an environment that could possibly support life, the first thing to look for is surface liquid water similar to what we have on Earth like rivers, lakes and oceans. Nothing like this has been discovered on Mars as of yet, Triplet said.
“It’s not because it’s too cold,” she said. “It’s because the air pressure is too low. You can’t have surface liquid water.”
The second factor researchers search for is subsurface liquid water, similar to Earth’s aquifers. The surface of Mars has features that indicate a good possibility of subsurface water, Triplet said.
One prime example of this is the existence of ‘squishy craters,’ Triplet said. When a projectile strikes a surface where water exists, the material ejected exhibits itself as mud and a squishy crater is the result. The question is then what state the subsurface water was in when it was hit.