The first sample of dust and soil analysed by NASA’s Curiosity Mars Rover in August 2012 was found to contain a substantial amount of water. This discovery provided new hope that a manned mission to Mars would be able to succeed.
Scientists have confirmed that the soil sample contained about two percent water, a fairly remarkable figure for an apparently cold, lifeless world.
“If you are a human explorer, this is really good news because you can quite easily extract water from almost anywhere,” said Dr. Laurie Leshin, a mission researcher affiliated with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.
“If you take about a cubic foot of this dirt and just heat it a little bit—a few hundred degrees—you’ll actually get off about two pints of water,” Dr. Leshin explained. This would be about half the amount required to meet the needs of the average person in a single day, and this level of soil saturation is believed to be typical for the red planet.
Based on this discovery, it seems that human explorers visiting Mars could bake enough water out of the soil to meet a significant portion of their needs. But this wouldn’t be their only option. They could also obtain water in the form of ice.