Water On Mars: Sedimentary Rock Found On Mars Plain
Before the seemingly dessert world came to be, the red planet was believed to be a warmer and wetter - there was water on Mars! However, the nature and timeline of this period was not identified. A new study found sedimentary rock on Mars, evidence that early Mars hosted water for over a long period of time.
Mars is the closest planet to earth and also the most possible to host life among the planets in the solar system. There are numerous missions to investigate that past habitability potential of Mars and possible existence of alien civilization. Currently, Liquid water on Mars' surface cannot exist because of severely low atmospheric pressure except on its lowest elevations for only short periods.
In a study published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. Researchers studied the sedimentary origin of intercrater plains in the north of the Hellas basin, which suggest that water was once present on Mars for a long time instead of just short, episodic periods.
"To create the kind of sedimentary plains we found at Hellas, we believe that a generally aqueous environment was present in the region some 3.8 billion years ago (Noachian period)," Dr. Francesco Salese, lead author of the study said, cited Sci-News . He added that the water on Mars might have lasted for a very long time -- about hundreds of millions of years.
Salese produced a detailed geological map of the plains, which was previously identified as "similar" to the moon's surface using images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), Context (CTX) camera and High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE).This gave the researchers details about the region's topography, morphology, appearance, mineralogy, and age.
The rock has characteristics similar to sedimentary rocks like box-work formed through erosion, which proves that the rock was formed though sedimentary process. Additionally, the researchers also found large amounts of clays which further confirms the presence of water on Mars. "We think it likely formed in a lake (lacustrine) or stream (alluvial) environment, or a combination of both," Salese said.
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