- Until now, scientists had thought that conditions on the red planet were too cold and arid for liquid water to exist, although there were known to be deposits of ice.
- The latest findings suggest that Martian soil is damp with liquid brine, due to the presence of a salt that significantly lowers the freezing point of water. When mixed with calcium perchlorate liquid water can exist down to around -70C, and the salt also soaks up water vapour from the atmosphere.
- Liquid water is traditionally considered an essential ingredient for life, but Mars remains hostile for other reasons, the scientists said. The latest findings are unlikely to change the view that if life ever blossomed on Mars, it probably died out more than a billion years ago. Today, cosmic radiation penetrates at least one metre into the Martian surface and would kill even the most robust microbes known on Earth.
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