DRINK up. The first moisture farm on Mars will be part of a mission blasting off in 2018.

Earlier this year, results from NASA’s Curiosity rover suggested pools of liquid water form 

at night just beneath Mars’s surface, before evaporating during the day. An instrument 

called HABIT designed to measure and test this process has now been approved for 

ExoMars, a joint mission between the European Space Agency and Russia to send a rover 

and lander to Mars in 2018.

HABIT will use salts to absorb 5 millilitres of water from the atmosphere each day, and can

 hold 25 ml in total. That might not sound much, but if the process works, it can be scaled

 up to provide water for future crewed missions.

Meanwhile, the seismometers on NASA’s InSight lander, due to launch in March, have 

developed a fault. NASA and CNES, France’s space agency, are fixing a leaky vacuum

 chamber and still hope to make the planned launch date.