Mars Absorbed all Water from its Surface, Study Suggests

What happened to the water on Mars?


Oxford University researchers have proposed another clarification for the longstanding problem: the end result for the water on Mars?

Albeit today the Martian surface is fruitless, solidified, and inhabitable, confirm focuses on a once hotter, wetter planet, where water streamed uninhibitedly. New research recommends that mars absorbed all water in its rocks.

Directed by researchers at Oxford‘s Department of Earth Sciences, the examination proposes that the planet’s surface responded with the water and afterward retained it, oxidizing the surface shakes all the while.

Most of the water on Mars was lost to space because of the crumple of the planet’s attractive field when it was either cleared away by high force sun-based breezes or bolted up as sub-surface ice. In any case, these speculations don’t clarify where the majority of the water has gone.

Convinced that the planet’s mineralogy held the answer to this puzzling question, scientists applied modeling methods used to understand the composition of Earth’s rocks to calculate how much water could be removed from the Martian surface through reactions with a rock. The team assessed the role that rock temperature, sub-surface pressure, and general Martian make-up have on the planetary surfaces.

Dr. Jon Wade, NERC Research Fellow in Oxford’s Department of Earth Sciences, said, “People have thought about this question for a long time, but never tested the theory of the water being absorbed as a result of simple rock reactions. There are pockets of evidence that together, leads us to believe that a different reaction is needed to oxidize the Martian mantle. For instance, Martian meteorites are chemically reduced compared to the surface rocks, and compositionally look very different. One reason for this, and why Mars lost all of its water, could be in its mineralogy.”

“The Earth’s current system of plate tectonics prevents drastic changes in surface water levels, with wet rocks efficiently dehydrating before they enter the Earth’s relatively dry mantle. But neither early Earth nor Mars had this system of recycling water.”

“On Mars, water reacting with the freshly erupted lavas that form its basaltic crust resulted in a sponge-like effect where the planet’s water reacted with the rocks forming a variety of water-bearing minerals. This water-rock reaction changed the rock mineralogy and caused the planetary surface to dry and become inhospitable to life.”

Mars is substantially smaller than Earth, with an alternate temperature profile and higher iron substance of its silicate mantle. These are just unobtrusive refinements however, they cause huge impacts that, after some time, include. They made the surface of Mars more inclined to respond with surface water and ready to shape minerals that contain water. As a result of these elements, the planet’s geographical science normally drags dilute into the mantle, while on early Earth, hydrated rocks tended to skim to the point when they dry out.

The research reveals that for life to form and be sustainable, the Earth’s halogen levels (Chlorine, Bromine, and Iodine) have to be just right. Too much or too little could cause a sterile environment. Previous studies have suggested that halogen levels in the early Earth were much higher, based on samples taken from meteorites. Ballentine et al were able to prove that those original estimates were simply too high.

While hunting down life and what supports it, one piece of information might be to search for a water source that has, in a perfect world, at first glance for quite a while. The Earth is 4.5 billion years of age and has clearly had surface water for nearly the whole time. Without water, the planet would wind up noticeably desolate, and no life would survive. We realize that Mars once had water and the possibility to maintain life; however, by correlation, little is thought about alternate planets, and the group is quick to change that.

Dr. Wade said, “Broadly speaking the inner planets in the solar system have similar composition, but subtle differences can cause dramatic differences – for example, rock chemistry. The biggest difference being, that Mars has more iron in its mantle rocks, as the planet formed under marginally more oxidizing conditions.”

“To build on this work we want to test the effects of other sensitivities across the planets – very little is known about Venus for example. Questions like: what if the Earth had more or less iron in the mantle, how would that change the environment? What if the Earth was bigger or smaller? These answers will help us to understand how much of a role rock chemistry determines a planet’s future fate.”

“When looking for life on other planets it is not just about having the right bulk chemistry, but also very subtle things like the way the planet is put together, which may have big effects on whether water stays on the surface. These effects and their implications for other planets have not really been explored.”

The divergent fates of primitive hydrospheric water on Earth and Mars were published in Nature by Jon Wade, Brendan Dyck, Richard M. Palin, James D. P. Moore & Andrew J. Smye.


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