NASA has found that water has flowed to Mars more than previously thought. Found out here more

27/01/2022
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

NASA is making important new discoveries about the planet Mars. Caltech researchers have used Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft that has been studying Mars for nearly 17 years. The researchers used data from Orbiter and found that the water that was on the surface of Mars could be studied by the salty minerals it left behind more than 2 billion years ago. 

Prior to this discovery, scientists believed that water from the planet's surface evaporated 3 billion years ago due to the thinner atmosphere (Mars' atmosphere is now 100 times smaller than Earth's). Some ditches on Mars may have formed due to the water that was on the red planet. The rivers or ponds that were on Mars rippled the soil where they were, and there most likely there are salt minerals that could help us learn more about Mars' past. 

But scientists do not know the age of the minerals on Mars, they have approx. the age at 3 billion years. Thanks to the latest data from two scientists observing Orbiter's studies, we can now expect even newer minerals from Mars, 2 billion years ago. 

The discoveries made by the two scientists are based on chloride salt deposits left behind as icy meltwater flowing across the landscape evaporated. 

Evidence from salt deposits found on Mars provides compelling evidence that water on Mars existed and was in a liquid state. Until now, water on Mars has been found only in the form of ice, but never in liquid form. However, if water existed on Mars 2 billion years ago and still exists in the form of ice, then microbial life was most likely there. 

The study's lead author, Ellen Leask, did much of the research with Caltech professor Bethany Ehlmann. They used data from an MRO instrument called the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM). They have mostly studied the clay-rich mountainous places of the southern hemisphere of Mars. Because the fewer craters a planet has, the younger the surface. So they studied the younger surface of Mars.
The number of craters is sometimes used to estimate the age of a surface or a planet. 

The researchers also used the two spacecraft cameras, The Context Camera, with its wide-angle black-and-white lens, helps scientists map the magnitude of chlorides and the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), allowing them to see details as small as a rover on Mars from space, according to NASA.

"What is amazing is that after more than a decade of providing high-resolution image, stereo, and infrared data, MRO has driven new discoveries about the nature and timing of these river-connected ancient salt ponds," said Ehlmann, CRISM's deputy principal investigator. Her co-author, Leask, is now a post-doctoral researcher at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory, which leads CRISM.

"The closest analog we can find on Earth are chains of lakes that you get in Antarctica when snow melts seasonally atop permafrost," Bethany Ehlmann, a Caltech professor of planetary science and co-author of the study, said in a statement. "It cannot penetrate deep into the frozen ground below, so when water evaporates, the salt deposit left behind is thin."

"Part of the value of MRO is that our view of the planet keeps getting more detailed over time," said Leslie Tamppari, the mission's deputy project scientist at JPL. "The more of the planet we map with our instruments, the better we can understand its history."

After this amazing discovery, scientists are probably excited to see the rocks that Perseverence has collected so far. NASA has said it will take a mission to Mars to collect evidence from Perseverence and bring it to Earth, and we will surely learn a lot from studying it. "This offers us new targets for future missions to Mars," Leask said. "Some of these deposits are on the ground that's a billion years younger than the ground the Perseverance Rover is rolling across right now, really extending our idea of ​​when water last flowed across the Martian surface." she also said.

Article by: Andacs Robert Eugen, on 27 January 2022, at 03:09 am Los Angeles time

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