'Is there life on Mars?': Water can and does exist on the planet says new research

The study by those at the University of Michigan found that at the right temperature water could form, enhancing the theory that the planet can support life

Water in its liquid form can exist on Mars but only during the summer and spring months and only for a couple of hours at a time, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Michigan have found that despite Mars’ sub-zero temperatures, small amounts of liquid water are able to form on the planet’s surface at the right temperature and with the presence of salt - furthering the idea that the planet can support life.

The findings were made after the research team at the University of Michigan created special chambers to imitate the freezing conditions found on the surface of Mars.

In these chambers, it was found that that water in its liquid form could be produced for short periods of time.

The study also found that this would only be possible if a type of salt, found on Mars last year, was present.

In 2008, the lead researcher of the latest study, Dr Nilton Renno, discovered water beads on the leg of the Phoenix Mars Lander, one of NASA’s Mars rovers, just after it had landed on the planet’s surface.

It was Renno’s theory that the water found on the spacecraft was created after salts had melted the ice underneath the Phoenix and found their way onto the spacecraft when the craft’s thrusters blasted away the surface’s topsoil.

Many of his contemporaries disagreed, because there had been no evidence that the salts he was describing had existed on Mars.

However, in 2013, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity found the type of salts that Renno was describing.

Following this discovery, those at Michigan University carried out the experiment that looked to recreate the conditions that had occurred during the Phoenix landing.

Two scenarios were tested at different temperatures, one that saw just salt placed on a temperature controlled plate created to simulate the Mars surface, and one where salty soil was placed directly on ice.

In the first test no liquid formed.

In the second experiment, researchers found that placing salty soil directly on three millimetres of ice led to water droplets forming when the chamber reached -73C – the same conditions experienced during the Phoenix’s Mars landing.

The craters that can be found across the surface of Mars are also seen as evidence for the existence of water The craters that can be found across the surface of Mars are also seen as evidence for the existence of water

'For me, the most exciting thing is that I can now understand how the droplets formed on the Phoenix leg,' said Dr Nilton Renno.

The study could also prove to scientists that Mars is able to sustain water across its surface during the summer and spring months, and could even be the first steps to finding out whether life could and does exist on the planet.

Dr Renno said: “even just a tiny droplet of water is enough for bacteria to grab hold of and survive.”

While a number of missions and studies have provided evidence for the existence of water on Mars in the past, water in its physical liquefied state has yet to be found directly on the planet’s surface.

Nevertheless, the new study adds to this wealth of evidence and gives scientists clear indications as to where water can be found on the planet and at what time is best to find it.

News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
filmDirector said film would 'never have been financed' with ethnic minority actors in key roles
News
people
Sport
footballArsenal 2 Borussia Dortmund 0: And they can still top the group
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
film
News
Andy Murray with his girlfriend of nine years, Kim Sears who he has got engaged to
peopleWimbledon champion announces engagement to girlfriend Kim Sears
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
tv
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
music
News
Albert Camus (left) and Jean-Paul Sartre fell out in 1952 and did not speak again before Camus’s death
people
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
Ed Miliband visiting the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The Labour leader has spoken more openly of his heritage recently
newsAttacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But are the barbs more sinister?
Arts and Entertainment
'Felfie' (2014) by Alison Jackson
photographyNew exhibition shows how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Fright night: the board game dates back to at least 1890
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Argyll Scott International: Financial Accounting Manager

£300 - £400 per day: Argyll Scott International: I am currently recruiting on ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Based Sales Surveyor - OTE £40,000

£16000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Field Based Sales Surveyor is...

Ampersand Consulting LLP: UI Designer/ User Interface Designer (UI, User Flow, Design)

£6000 - £60000 per annum + Bonus and Benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: UI De...

Investigo: International Finance Analyst

£270 - £300 per annum: Investigo: An exciting opportunity to join an internati...

Day In a Page

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

Staying connected: The King's School

The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up
Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition

Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund

The Ox celebrates century with trademark display of speed and intuition
Billy Joe Saunders vs Chris Eubank Jnr: When two worlds collide

When two worlds collide

Traveller Billy Joe Saunders did not have a pampered public-school upbringing - unlike Saturday’s opponent Chris Eubank Jnr
Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?