Breaking news! ESA first discovered water in the Grand Canyon of Mars, see here

Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)
Credit: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

Breaking news! The collaboration between ESA and Roscosmos, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, observed water in the Grand Canyon of Mars (Valles Marineris). ESA says there are significant amounts of water in that canyon, but unfortunately it is not on the surface. All the water discovered is below the surface of Mars. But at least it exists and can be taken out of there. The water was discovered by the Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) FREND instrument, part of the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. Most of all, however, the instrument maps the hydrogen on the planet, and as water contains hydrogen, then the instrument immediately noticed the huge amount of water beneath the surface of Mars. 

This is not the first discovery of water on Mars. So far, the water on Mars has probably been found in much larger quantities than here, at the poles of the planet. But at the poles the water was found in the form of ice. Also, water on Mars has been found elsewhere, indeed in small quantities, most still below the surface of the red plantain. "With TGO we can look up to a meter below this layer of dust and see what is really going on beneath the surface of Mars - and, first of all, we can locate water-rich 'oases' that could not be detected with previous instruments. "Says Igor Mitrofanov. of the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, Russia; lead author of the new study; and principal investigator of the FREND (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector).

But even if it is not the first discovery of water on Mars, it is probably one of the missions that bring the most information. Recently, ESA claims that if hydrogen is bound to water molecules, then up to 40% of the near-surface material in this region has the potential to be water (solid or liquid). What does this percentage of the area mean? It means approx. the surface under which the water is, is as big as the Netherlands! 

"This finding is an amazing first step, but we need more observations to know for sure what form of water we're dealing with," adds study co-author Håkan Svedhem of ESA's ESTEC in the Netherlands, and former ESA project scientist for the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter. "Regardless of the outcome, the finding demonstrates the unrivalled abilities of TGO's instruments in enabling us to 'see' below Mars' surface - and reveals a large, not-too-deep, easily exploitable reservoir of water in this region of Mars." .

The data for which water was discovered beneath the surface of Mars in that canyon took some time to be analyzed. ExoMars observed quite large amounts of hydrogen between 2018-2021. Researchers and scientists have begun to analyze these studies, and after some time have now come to the conclusion that the large amount of hirdrgone is bound to water molecules. It has been concluded that there is water, but it is not yet known exactly in what form it is or which form of water has the largest share. But scientists and researchers are wary of saying that there may be liquid water beneath the surface of Mars, because in most regions where water was found, the water was in the form of ice. So, most likely in this region, the water is in the form of water.

We wish ESA continued success and Roscosmos, so that both can discover through the instruments they have on Mars, as many phenomena or even more water. 

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 15 December 2021, at 08:55 am Los Angeles time

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