Mars was moist extra just lately than we thought, based on Chinese language rover

There might have been liquid water on Mars rather more just lately than we thought, based on an evaluation of rocks by China’s Zhurong rover


11 May 2022

Zhurong rover

The Zhurong rover wanting again at its lander

China National Space Administration

Mars might have had liquid water a whole lot of thousands and thousands of years extra just lately than we thought, based on information gathered by China’s Zhurong rover.

While proof of liquid water on Mars has been discovered earlier than, it was typically thought that the planet was moist till solely about 3 billion years in the past, which is when a interval of its historical past generally known as the Amazonian started and which continues immediately.

China’s Zhurong rover has been exploring Utopia Planitia, a comparatively unexplored affect crater in northern Mars, since May 2021. Yang Liu on the National Space Science Center in Beijing, China, and his colleagues used the rover’s spectrometers to analyse rocks on the floor of the crater and located minerals containing water.

“The discovery of hydrated minerals has significant implications on the geological history of the region and the climate evolution of Mars,” says Liu.

The researchers used a laser on the rover to acquire a pattern from rocks, which was then analysed utilizing two on-board spectrometers. They then in contrast the recorded signatures with these of identified hydrated minerals in rocks on Earth.

The proof suggests to Liu and his colleagues that there might have been liquid water nicely into the late Amazonian, says Liu – though the group weren’t in a position to say precisely how just lately it was current.

Understanding how just lately Mars had liquid water might assist us assess how a lot water stays locked up there immediately in ice or mineral type. This data shall be helpful within the seek for a possible supply of water for future missions there.

“If you’ve got hydrated minerals on the surface of these relatively young rocks, that kind of implies you must have had liquid water on the surface [of Mars] at those relatively [recent times],” says Jon Wade on the University of Oxford.

The gear on the Zhurong rover doesn’t presently have the aptitude to establish precisely what sort of minerals are current within the samples, so future work ought to deal with figuring out them intimately, says Wade.

Journal reference: Science Advances, DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn8555

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