Mars may have less water than previously estimated shows a new study. Here’s why

Credit image: NASA - Every winter, a layer of carbon dioxide frost (dry ice) forms on the surface of Mars
Credit image: NASA - Every winter, a layer of carbon dioxide frost (dry ice) forms on the surface of Mars

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 27 April 2022, at 08:57 am Los Angeles time

A study by researchers at the Oden Institute and the Jackson School of Geosciences shows that Mars has less water than previous estimates.

The study was based on a model developed by them to predict the groundwater flow of Mars.

Even if there were no direct observations, the results of this study prove to be much more accurate than the previous ones.

It is believed that an astral entity collided with Mars a few billion years ago, which resulted in the creation of the northern plain that is so large that it can be seen from space or even with a high-performance telescope on Earth.

Thus, the researchers concluded that there was more water in that part before the collision.

"Mars used to have a lot of water and it still has ice likely before this collision," said Mohammad Afzal Shadab, a CSEM graduate student at the Oden Institute who, together with his team, developed a simple mathematical formula for predicting how big Mars' water table was.

"Using curvilinear coordinates transformation and groundwater flow dynamics, we developed analytic solutions for a steady unconfined groundwater aquifer beneath the southern highlands of Noachian Mars (4 billion years ago)," Shadab explained more about his study.

They also used the models to explore self-consistent combinations of recharge (rainfall or precipitation) and hydraulic conductivities.

Why are the previous estimates wrong, and the new ones are much more accurate?

Because scientists in the past used the Cartesian mapping method. Assured, they didn't think the planet was flat, but they used this method only because it was simpler than if they had used the one with spherical coordinates.

Scientists have not analyzed the potential water resources of Mars with spherical coordinates, because they require complex mathematics as they said.

However, this new team of scientists has proven that using the spherical method is much simpler and more accurate than the method used by scientists in the past.

"We found that all the previously published estimates for recharge rates are orders of magnitude off from what early Mars could accommodate," concluded Shadab.

"Simple is the wrong word to use. I would say more elegant," he added. "And 3D simulations on a complicated geometry with craters and putative shorelines developed by my co-collaborators at the Jackson School support the model, showing the same behavior," he said at the end.

It is only because these scientists have used a different method that they have been able to make some kind of discovery about Mars.

In the end, Shadab and his team developed a model for a hypothetical lowland ocean in the north that is connected to or perhaps even fed by a groundwater aquifer along the entire southern mountainous area.

Note: The north of Mars is headless, while the south is mountainous.

The study entitled: "Estimates of Martian Mean Recharge Rates from Analytic Groundwater Models" is advised by Marc Hesse and is pursued in collaboration with Eric Hiatt. It is a collaboration between the Oden Institute for Computational Engineering and Sciences, Jackson School of Geosciences, Institute for Geophysics, and Center for Planetary Systems Habitability

Source: Oden Institute

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