The ground where NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Spirit became stuck last year holds evidence that water, perhaps as snow melt, trickled into the subsurface fairly recently and on a continuing basis, NASA reports.
Stratified soil layers with different compositions close to the surface led the rover science team to propose that thin films of water may have entered the ground from frost or snow. The seepage could have happened during cyclical climate changes during periods when Mars tilted farther on its axis. The water may have moved down into the sand, carrying soluble minerals deeper than less-soluble ones. Spin-axis tilt varies over timescales of hundreds of thousands of years.