Science Weekly: NASA rover reveals traces of water on Mars’ surface

On Aug. 6, 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on Mars with the job of answering whether or not Mars could sustain life.

Water is the necessity of life. If Mars has any trace of water on the surface, it could have at one time sustained some form of life before the disintegration of its atmosphere.

In order to analyze the surface material on Mars, NASA designed a rover with the capability to gather the material and process samples of rock and soils.

NASA equipped Curiosity with a gas chromotograph, a mass spectrometer and a tunable laser spectrometer. This equipment enables Curiosity to identify a large range of chemicals and the ratios of isotopes of key elements.

The first scoop of soil Curiosity collected was analyzed in its belly. The results revealed that the materials on the surface of Mars are 2 percent water. These findings were published last week in Science magazine.

Curiosity also has the ability to analyze samples for organic compounds. As well as water, samples collected from Rocknest revealed some traces of organic compounds, but it wasn’t clear whether or not they were of Martian origin.  Scientists believe the organic compounds were formed during the heating experiments within Curiosity.

Because of the harsh conditions on Mars’ surface, any organic material is not likely to survive on the outer surface of the planet.

Scientists believe there should be an abundance of water easily accessible on Mars, and are eager to find out what other samples of soil will reveal.

Information gathered from