Mars might have an ocean of water hidden underneath its surface
A new study suggests millions of gallons of ancient Martian water could be lodged in mineral deposits throughout the red planet
In a new report published in the journal Science, scientists suggest that enormous amounts of ancient Martian water may be buried beneath the planet’s surface, The Verge reports.
According to Time, as much as 99% of Mars’ water could be locked away within its crust. If proven true, this discovery would refute a previously accepted theory that the majority of Mars’ water escaped into space some 3 billion years ago when the planet lost its protective magnetic field, per Space.com.
Science News reports that the researchers behind the new study used computer simulations to analyze Martian water movement over time. Their findings suggest that, while some of the planet’s water drifted into space during the past 3 billion years, most of the water is still on the planet, lodged inside crystal structures of minerals.
“(This finding) helps bring focus to a really important mechanism for water loss on Mars,” Kirsten Siebach, a planetary geologist at Rice University said (via Science News). “Water getting locked up in crustal minerals may be equally important as water loss to space and could potentially be more important.”
The key piece of evidence needed to confirm the study’s theory is already in the works. As previously reported by the Deseret News, NASA landed the Perseverance rover in Mars’ Jezero Crater, last month. The Verge reports that the crater features a dried-out lake bed with soil that could help verify the red planet’s abundance of hydrated minerals.
According to the site, part of Perseverance’s mission is to scoop up tiny soil samples and scatter them across the crater’s surface in preparation for a future rover to retrieve them.
“Samples from Jezero will help us test this model,” said Bethany Ehlmann, a co-author of the study (via The Verge). “It amplifies the importance of bringing those samples back.”