For decades, scientists have speculated about what might have happened to all of thisBelieved to have been a remarkably wet planet before the era. Some water is found stagnant in Martian polar ice caps, but new research suggests there are also shocking amounts In Mars. This discovery could have a major impact on plans to develop a water storage facility for future human presence on the Red Planet.
It is largely believed that most of the surface water of Mars went with it as the ancient atmosphere gradually stretched into space. But a new study backed by NASA suggests that Mars moisture is still on the planet, trapped in its crust.
“The atmospheric escape does not fully explain the data we have for how much water was actually on Mars at one time,” said Caltech Ph.D. Candidate Eva Schiller said in a statement. Sheetler is the lead author of a study published Tuesday in the journal Science.
Schiller and colleagues looked at model dales that looked at the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere and current data on the planet’s crust in different forms of water over time. They discovered that atmospheric escape theory could not fully account for the conditions we see today above and below the surface of our neighboring world.
“Atmospheric escape had a clear role to play in water loss, but the findings of the last decade of the Mars mission point to the fact that these were huge reservoirs of ancient hydrated minerals, the formation of which definitely reduced water availability over time,” explains Bethany Ehlmann, Celttech. Professor of Planetary Science.
When water and stone interact, chemical weathering processes can occur that form clay-like materials that contain water in their mineral structure. This process takes place on Earth, but the geological cycle eventually sends the moisture trapped in the rocks back to the atmosphere through the volcano. However, if there is any volcanic activity on Mars it seems to be very low, causing all that water to get stuck in the crust.
“All of this water was set up fairly early, and never cycled again,” Schiller says.
The team found that billions of years ago, Mars had enough water from 100 to 1,500 meters (328 and 4,920 feet) deep oceans to cover the entire planet, and that between 30% and 99% of that water is now trapped in minerals. In the crust
Sheller and Ehlman will helpTo finally return to Earth to test the theory and collect rock samples from Mars for study.
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