Boffins from Glasgow University, the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre and the Natural History Museum tested a 1.7-gram fragment of Martian meteorite known as Nakhla.
But this is the first time they have been able to confirm that water corroded the face of the planet.
Professor Martin Lee of the University's School of Geographical and Earth Sciences and lead author of the paper, said: "Using a scanning electron microscope, we examined many tiny depressions, known as etch pits, in grains of the minerals olivine and augite in the meteorite.
"What we've found for the first time is evidence that the etch pits were created when water dissolved the olivine and augite, and that the elements released from those minerals led to the formation of the secondary minerals.
"It's an exciting discovery."
The full results are to be published in the Meteoritical Society's journal MAPS.