Liquid water could form temporarily on the Martian surface in places where salts and ice coexist.
A team led by Erik Fischer of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor used a special chamber to simulate the environmental conditions of Mars. The researchers placed a thin layer of salt grains, similar to those found on Mars, in the chamber and exposed the salt to ice, simulating Mars's polar region. The ice melted within minutes.
The findings have implications for life on Mars, the authors say, noting that some bacteria can thrive in brines.
Geophys. Res. Lett. http://doi.org/tfj (2014)