Mars DOES have water: NASA discover evidence of ancient reservoir underneath surface
NASA scientists have discovered evidence of a reservoir of water and ice
The Curiosity Rover has drilled into a piece of Martian rock and found proof that indicates Mars has a distinct reservoir of water or ice near its surface.
It comes just days after the same six-wheeled Rover found the first signs of life of the Red Planet.
Scientists were able to examine the piece of Martian rock and found ancient hidden water within it.
Though controversy still surrounds the history of water on Mars, the discovery, scientists claim, will help to resolve the question as to where all the ‘missing water’ may have gone.
Tomohiro Usui of Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan, who wrote the report said: “There have been hints of a third planetary water reservoir in previous studies of Martian meteorites, but our new data require the existence of a water or ice reservoir that also appears to have exchanged with a diverse set of Martian samples.”
“Until this study there was no direct evidence for this surface reservoir or interaction of it with rocks that have landed on Earth from the surface of Mars.”
This illustration depicts Martian water reservoirs
The samples revealed water comprised of hydrogen atoms that have a ratio of isotopes distinct from that found in water in the Red Planet’s mantle and current atmosphere.
Researchers emphasise that the distinct hydrogen isotopic signature of the water reservoir must be of sufficient size.
“The hydrogen isotopic composition of the current atmosphere could be fixed by a quasi-steady-state process that involves rapid loss of hydrogen to space and the sublimation from a widespread ice layer,” said coauthor John Jones, a JSC experimental petrologist and member of NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover team.
Curiosity’s observations in a lakebed, in an area called Mount Sharp, indicate Mars lost its water in a gradual process over a significant period of time.
“In the absence of returned samples from Mars, this study emphasises the importance of finding more Martian meteorites and continuing to study the ones we have with the ever-improving analytical techniques at our disposal,” said co-author Conel Alexander, a cosmochemist at the Carnegie Institution for Science.
This study used meteorites of different ages to show that significant ground water-ice may have existed relatively intact over time.
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Scientists compared water, other volatile element concentrations and hydrogen isotopic compositions of glasses within the meteorites, which may have formed as the rocks erupted to the surface of Mars in ancient volcanic activity or by impact events that hit the Martian surface, knocking them off the planet.
“We examined two possibilities, that the signature for the newly identified hydrogen reservoir either reflects near surface ice interbedded with sediment or that it reflects hydrated rock near the top of the Martian crust,” said coauthor and JSC cosmochemist Justin Simon.
“Both are possible, but the fact that the measurements with higher water concentrations appear uncorrelated with the concentrations of some of the other measured volatile elements, in particular chlorine, suggests the hydrogen reservoir likely existed as ice.”
Earlier this week, NASA scientists discovered the first hint of alien life as the Curiosity Rover detected spikes in methane gas – one of the the main byproducts of living organisms.
The robot explored a 98 mile-wide crater on the red planet when it made the breakthrough discovery.
Curiosity has been in the same area since it landed on the surface of Mars in August 2012.
19/12/2014 09:34 by: Daily Express