About 3 billion years ago, many of the rivers and ponds that inhabited the Martian surface began the process of evaporation. This event occurred after the loss of the atmosphere by Mars, which provoked the catastrophic processes that formed the red planet known to us today. Today, although we can no longer see masses of water on its surface, Researchers have created a map that will help you find out where it was many millennia ago..

The map was developed after ten years of research using data collected by ESA and NASA. His intention is to answer one of the biggest mysteries surrounding the red planet. find out how widespread water was in the past.

But why is it important to know where water was on Mars? Well, as you already know, the search for life in other parts of the universe has been a task in which humanity has invested a lot of time, money and energy. Water, for its part, is necessary for the development of life as we know it. That is why, knowing in what places there were accumulations of this liquid, scientists can better focus on finding living organisms. Or at least signs that they were once there.

That’s what NASA’s Perseverance rover does on Mars. The robot has already collected samples from the Jezero crater, one of the places on the planet with the highest concentration of hydrated minerals. Soon we will be able to answer the great mystery of life on the red planet.

What do we see on this colorful map?

Global map of hydrated minerals on the surface of Mars

While the map doesn’t exactly show bodies of water on Mars, it contains even more interesting details. In particular, he focuses on determining where rock formations whose current properties could be determined by water.

“This work has shown that when you study ancient terrain in detail, it’s rare not to see these minerals,” says John Carter of the Institute of Spatial Astrophysics in Paris. Carter is also the lead author of the study..

Hydrated minerals in the Jezero crater. The apparent abundance of carbonates is shown in orange. Fe/Mg phyllosilicates are marked in red and hydrated silica in blue.

In red we see water-soluble clays on the planet, and in green we see hydrated sulfates.. Orange and blue, for their part, indicate the location of carbonate salts and hydrated silica clays and aluminosilicates, respectively.

The work took a decade and they used data from the NASA Mars Reconnaissance and Mars Express orbiters of the European Space Agency.. Prior to this study, scientists were aware of only about a thousand rocks with hydrated minerals. Today, however, hundreds of thousands of places are known where water could have had a significant impact.

I think we have collectively simplified Mars.

John Carter

Map of the location of water on Mars
Detailed map of hydrated minerals in Oxia Planum. It shows an abundance of Fe/Mg smectite/vermiculite in red and hydrated silica in cyan.

How did these materials get to the surface of Mars?

Although Mars today is a planet well known for its aridity, billions of years ago the situation was different. In fact, recent studies show that water flowed over its surface..

Water, meanwhile, contains water minerals inside. What does it mean? That after interacting with stones in the past, they would change their chemical composition due to the presence of liquid. Thus, they eventually become clays or salts.

If the amount of water interacting with the rock is too small, it is not able to significantly change its composition, retaining the original volcanic state. On the other hand, if the presence of water is much greater, soluble elements contained in rocks begin to dissolveleaving behind aluminum-rich clays.

Of course, there is still a lot of work to be done. The map cannot provide answers to all questions of researchers. Nonetheless, is an ideal starting point from which to start new research. about the past of our neighboring planet and the possible future of the second home planet.

Source: Hiper Textual

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