The theory that Mars has once been a habitable planet has been confirmed once again. Scientists report newly discovered facts that indicate ancient Mars may have been very similar to what Earth looks like today.
A study published in Science reveals that liquid water was once present on Mars. And even in high amounts. The red and deserted land that is today seems to have been covered by an ocean in the past.
Authors of the study say that 4.3 million years ago, water covered most of the planet`s northern hemisphere.
The scientists measured two types of water that they found in planet Mars` atmosphere. Even if much of the planet`s atmosphere is gone, there are some water vapors that could be observed. They analyzed the chemical composition of the vapor thanks to the sunlight reflections off the Red Planet`s surface and back through the atmosphere.
They have observed particularities about the hydrogen in the water. This element has two varieties: the normal hydrogen, containing a proton, and a more uncommon heavy hydrogen, or deuterium, with both a proton and a neuron. Due to Mar`s decreased gravity, the ordinary hydrogen flew out into space, thus Mars has a 7 times bigger proportion of heavy hydrogen than Earth does. This is how scientists calculated how much water there used to be on Mars.
The Martian ocean was the size of the Arctic Ocean, but scientists say that it held much more water that the Arctic. It is assumed that the ocean had a maximum depth of around one mile, which is comparable to the average depth of the Mediterranean Sea. Researchers say Mars had enough water to cover its entirety with a 450 feet deep layer. Nowadays, all that is left from the Martian ocean is preserved in frozen segments on the planet`s poles. This represents only 13 percent of the water Mars used to hold. It is thought that the water disappeared as Mars lost its atmosphere. The water, which occupied nearly 19 percent of the planet`s surface, dropped off because of the decreasing temperature and pressure.
“With Mars losing that much water, the planet was very likely wet for a longer period of time than was previously thought, suggesting it might have been habitable for longer”,
said Michael Mumma, who is a NASA senior scientist and one of the leaders of the study.
The study comes after recent discussions about the possibility of such a Martian Ocean. A team of experts in control of the Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars since 2012, talked about it formally last month.
Image Source: Windows 2 Universe