ESA answered a few questions about the discovery of water on Mars that you probably have. See the latest answers in an interview
News! ESA answered a few questions about the discovery of water on Mars that you probably have. Colin Wilson is the ESA expert with whom I discussed things about the latest discovery made by ESA. That is, about the discovery of water in the "Grand Canyon" on Mars. If you don't know this new discovery, you can see it here: https://www.bailey-universe.com/l/breaking-news-esa-first-discovered-water-in-the-grand-canyon-of-mars- see-here / In any case, below you can find 8 questions with answers from an expert. You probably had these questions, especially since some of you sent us some questions, so you can clarify them here after we asked ESA. Thus the answers below are clear.
1. What is the system by which the TGO instrument discovered water below the surface of Mars, did it by scanning or other means, and which?
>> The instrument on TGO detects neutrons coming from Mars: these neutrons are produced in the top 1-2 m of the soil of Mars when high energy particles called galactic cosmic rays hit the surface of Mars. If the soil contains a lot of hydrogen molecules, it will produce fewer neutrons: therefore mapping how many neutrons are coming from Mars tells us how many hydrogen atoms are mixed in the top metre of the Martian soil. Because of the chemical environment on Mars, virtually all of the hydrogen atoms are in the form of water molecules; these water molecules are either in the form of ice or bound to in minerals. The neutron mapping is done by a neutron counting device which is on ESA's Trace Gas Orbiter; it is sensitive to the neutrons coming from the region of Mars which is below the orbiter. The spacecraft's orbit takes it over almost all of Mars, so it builds up a map of water molecule abundances in the soil across the whole planet. - Colin Wilson Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter European Space Agency / ESTEC
2. Has water ever been discovered in the Grand Canyon on Mars?
>> No. There are signs that a lot of water has flowed in this "Grand Canyon" in the past, but there was no evidence for abundant water there in the present era. - Colin Wilson Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter European Space Agency / ESTEC
3. Is this the first time ESA has discovered water or discovered it?
>> No. ESA has measured huge amounts of water ice in the polar caps (https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Water_at_Martian_south_pole), and also in high-latitude craters (for example https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Water_ice_in_crater_at_Martian_north_pole). Water vapour is regularly measured in the atmosphere (https://sci.esa.int/web/mars-express/-/49374-transport-of-water-vapour-in-the-martian-atmosphere). And ESA's Mars Express orbiter also found evidence suggesting there may be liquid water under the polar ice caps (https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/Mars_Express/Mars_Express_detects_liquid_water_hidden_under_planet_s_south_pole). - Colin Wilson Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter European Space Agency / ESTEC
4. Was the water found in liquid or solid form?
>> The present measurements do not detect whether the water is in liquid or solid form. However, given the pressure and temperature of Mars, the water must be either in the form of ice, or chemically bound to minerals, or a mixture of both. - Colin Wilson Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter European Space Agency / ESTEC
5. Would there be the technology needed at this time for water to be removed from the surface of Mars?
>> When the soil has such high water abundances as we found in Valles Marineris, then extracting the water is relatively simple: the soil needs to be dug up, crushed and then heated to extract the water; but care needs to be taken to prevent the water from escaping as vapour before it is trapped! ESA will be testing technologies to recover ice from the soil of the moon, using the PROSPECT experiment on Luna-27 lander, due for launch in 2025. (https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Exploration/One_step_closer_to_prospecting_the_Moon) - Colin Wilson Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter European Space Agency / ESTEC
6. What could be the explanation for why water is below the surface of Mars, not on the surface (the temperatures on Mars are not very high)?
>> Any water ice exposed at the surface would turn into vapour, because temperatures are not cold enough for it to remain in the form of ice. If the water ice is covered by layers of dust or chemically bound in rock minerals, then that could keep it from evaporating. - Colin Wilson Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter European Space Agency / ESTEC
7. Even if water is below the surface of Mars, can it evaporate when temperatures are slightly higher on Mars?
>> Yes it can. How long this would take will depend on the temperatures, and on the form in which the water ice is found. Because of this evaporation effect, it is surprising to find such high abundances of water ice; it needs to be studied more to understand why there is so much ice here, and whether there was liquid water flowing here recently. - Colin Wilson Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter European Space Agency / ESTEC
8. Do you have plans to further explore that region where water was found?
>> Not yet! Valles Marineris would be a spectacular place to land, but also difficult because of the steep canyon walls. In 2022, ESA will be launching the ExoMars 2022 rover to Mars, it will at a site where water has flowed in the past, carving river channels and depositing clay minerals. Studies like the present one will help us decide on landing sites for future missions. - Colin Wilson Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter European Space Agency / ESTEC
We hope these answers from Colin Wilson, Project Scientist, ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter The European Space Agency / ESTEC will help you and make you better understand this new discovery, as well as the small details about it. The first question is how TGO discovered water beneath the surface of Mars. Many of you have had this question.
More about this new discovery:
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).
Many thanks to Mr. Colin Wilson for his answers, and we wish him and ESA continued success in discovering even more about Mars.
Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 16 December 2021, at 10:45 am Los Angeles time
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