How important is the presence of liquid water?
It is now widely accepted that Mars contains a reasonably large volume of water.
However, the surface of the planet is so cold that this water only exists as ice.
For life to exist on a planet, many scientists believe it is essential for the world to have liquid water.
Ever since technology allowed mankind to see Mars in detail, humans have searched for clues that there is water on the Red Planet.
Was water flowing on the surface of Mars?
The Mariner 9 mission revealed evidence of water erosion in river and canyon beds, as well as evidence of weather fronts and fogs on Mars in 1971.
Subsequent missions by Viking orbiters, first launched in 1975, revealed even more details of how water flowed over the surface and carved out valleys.
Several studies have investigated the presence of liquid water for decades. In 2000, the first evidence of liquid water on Mars was discovered.
It has been claimed that the ravines observed on the surface of the planet must have been formed by the flow of water.
Scientists have cited the debris and mud deposits left behind as evidence of the existence of moving water at some point in the Red Planet’s history.
However, the formation of these ravines has been hotly debated in the years since.
Evidence of Ice in Geological Samples from Mars
Spirit and Opportunity, the twin rovers, found evidence of water locked in rock in 2007, when one of Spirit’s wheels broke and waterlogged a piece of stone.
Analysis of the silica-rich layer found in the scratch suggests that it formed in the presence of liquid water.
In 2008, the Phoenix lander was collecting geological samples, and they disappeared after a few days.
Scientists thought they were chunks of ice. This assessment was confirmed when the lander subsequently detected water vapor in a sample.
In 2012, Curiosity meandered over an ancient Martian seafloor when it examined a number of rocks that were exposed to liquid water billions of years ago.
In 2012, Curiosity (pictured) meandered across an ancient Martian seabed when it examined a number of rocks that were exposed to liquid water billions of years ago.
The recurring fall lines and the debate are the cause
Features known as Recurring Slope Lines (RSL) were first identified in 2011.
These dark streaks populate areas of Mars with a steep slope.
The researchers speculated that these may have been caused by the intermittent flow of liquid water on the planet’s steep shores.
In June 2013, Curiosity found compelling evidence that water good enough to drink once flowed on Mars. In September of that year, the first spoonful of soil analyzed by Curiosity revealed that fine material on the planet’s surface contains two percent water by weight.
In 2015, Nasa claimed to have discovered the first evidence of liquid water on Mars today.
The space agency said its Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provides the strongest evidence yet that liquid water is intermittently flowing on present-day Mars.
In 2017, NASA issued another statement reprimanding its initial findings.
Features known as Recurring Slope Lines (RSL) were first identified in 2011 (pictured). These dark streaks populate areas of Mars with a steep slope. The researchers speculated that these may have been caused by the intermittent flow of liquid water
He said the dark features running down the steep slopes of the Red Planet were actually granular flows, where grains of sand and dust slide down to form dark streaks, rather than the ground being darkened by the infiltrating water.
MRO images revealed that the striations only exist on slopes steep enough for dry grains to descend as they do on active dune faces.
Also in 2017, scientists provided the best estimates of water on Mars, saying there was once more liquid H2O than the Arctic Ocean – and the planet has retained those oceans for more than 1.5 billion. of years.
The results suggest there was enough time and water for life on Mars to thrive, but over the past 3.7 billion years the Red Planet has lost 87% of its water, leaving the sterile and dry surface.
An underground lake
In a study published in the journal Science, ESO researchers have just discovered the first concrete proof of the existence of liquid water on Mars.
Using radar images from the Mars Express probe, the ESO team discovered a 20 km long underground lake filled with liquid water.
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