This is the longest period of observation and provides the largest volume of data about water vapour on Mars.

"This research has made an important contribution to the understanding of the Martian hydrological cycle the most important of the climate mechanisms which could potentially support the existence of biological activity on the planet," said co-author Alexander Rodin from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT).

For the research, scientists from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and MIPT worked together with their French and American colleagues.

They analysed a mass of data obtained by observing water vapour in Mars' atmosphere using an infrared spectrometer.

Conditions on Mars low temperatures and low atmospheric pressure do not allow water to exist in liquid form in open reservoirs as it would on Earth.

But there is water vapour in the atmosphere, although at very low levels compared to the quantities available on Earth.

The findings appeared in the journal Icarus.

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