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A friend of mine asked me this question:

If we have a guess that there may be underground water on Mars, why do we not send rovers with diggers?

I do have a few ideas, but I want alternative views by the community.

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Because of politics. It's getting more and more difficult and expensive to get anything done. There's a $3 billion hand drill there already, but it didn't drill for almost a year. –  LocalFluff Jun 1 at 0:00
The InSight lander, due to be launched in 2016, includes a probe designed to burrow up to 5 meters below the surface -- but it's designed to measure heat flow, not water. –  Keith Thompson Jun 2 at 21:59

1 Answer 1

Sending anything to Mars is expensive. Sending a machine capable of drilling to the required depths to find subsurface water would be prohibitively expensive with current rocket payload limits.

There are also far more accessible sources of water on the surface - lakes of ice in craters, water rich minerals, and even an equatorial frozen sea .

There is also water at the surface of Mars on the poles, but the conditions here are much harsher than nearer the equator, and there is less sunlight, reducing the capability of any solar powered rover.

The subsurface water is not necessarily that far below the surface, but it is also not a torrent; more likely trapped as ice particles in between the rock or in secondary minerals.

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