There is a surprising amount of water bound up in the soil of Mars, according to an analysis done onboard the US space agency’s (Nasa) Curiosity rover.
When it heated a small pinch of dirt scooped up from the ground, the most abundant vapour detected was H2O.
Curiosity researcher Laurie Leshin and colleagues tell Science Magazine that Mars’ dusty red covering holds about 2% by weight of water.
This could be a useful resource for future astronauts, they say.
“If you think about a cubic foot of this dirt and you just heat it a little bit – a few hundred degrees – you’ll actually get off about two pints of water – like two water bottles you’d take to the gym,” Dr Leshin explained.