by ANDRE RAYGOZA
According to new research liquid water lurks below the surface of Mars on cold winter nights. The Mars Curiosity rover has found evidence that when temperatures drop on cold winter nights, there is trace amounts of water from the atmosphere can turn to frost. They can then be absorbed into the upper layers of the Martian soil and liquified; the liquid water evaporates back into the atmosphere after sunrise when temperature start to go up again.
Turning water from a solid to a liquid requires the presence of a particular type of salt that scientist say could melt the frost, even in very cold temperatures. However the authors of the new work say the small amounts of liquid salt water in the soils would not be enough to support microbial life. The extreme temperatures would also make the environment too extreme. There are many ways to describe the landscape of the Martian planet, although the planet once hosted flowing rivers and massive lakes. Today it appears that all the liquid water on the surface of the planet has either been vaporized or frozen by the extreme temperatures.
The new results suggest there is more going underneath this desert than meets the eyes. Digging into the soil of the Red Planet, instruments on board Curiosity found a chemical called calcium perchlorate, a type of salt. The authors say the perchlorate absorbs frost from the soil surface, melts it and creates a thin layer of salty brine. The liquefied water can then sink even lower in the Martian soil, mixing with other salts. The addition of liquid water is like a set of wheels for those salts, it allows them to move through the soil and relocate.