Mars Mystery: Scientists Stumped by Disappearing Water on Mars
Of all the planets in the solar system that we are eager to explore, Mars is firmly holding onto the first position.
In recent years, we have come to know the red planet like never before, making discoveries that have rewritten everything we thought we knew about the fourth planet from the sun.
A recent analysis of Mars, its atmosphere and the surface have revealed that water seems to be disappearing from the surface of Mars.
Yes, Mars has water, and it has surface water.
Although there aren’t any rivers, lakes, and oceans on Mars today, scientists have discovered years ago that the planet isn’t as barren as it was once thought to be. Some of the water on Mars remains frozen in the planet’s ice caps.
The recent analysis of data from Mars suggests that water is disappearing on the red planet faster than our current understanding of the planet indicates.
The disappearance of water on the surface of Mars takes place when sunlight and chemical reactions turn water molecules into lighter atoms of hydrogen and oxygen. Eventually, these atoms could escape the gravitational pull of Mars and end up in space.
However, scientists have been left stumped by the speed of the process the water is disappearing. Current data is telling us that Mars could lose its water much faster than previously thought.
Evidence suggests that Mars was once a planet much similar to earth, flooded with liquid water on the surface, and oceans which may have been similar to those of Earth. This liquid water has vanished into space in the planet’s recent history, turning the planet into the mostly arid place it is today.
The new data which suggests water is quickly vanishing from the red planet’s surface was published in Science. The discovery was made thanks to the Trace Gas Orbiter probe that was sent to Mars onboard the Exo Mission, a joint operation between the European Space Agency and Roscosmos.
The Martian mystery
Data suggests that instead of remaining on the surface of Mars, water is being transported to an altitude of more than 80 kilometers, hanging in the thin atmosphere of the red planet.
Mars’ atmosphere contains up to one hundred times more water vapor than its temperature should allow.
The data gathered by the Trace Gas Orbiter has also shown that Martian water is also able to escape the surface during the warm and stormy seasons.
Although there is still water left on the surface of Mars, experts say that it could find its way into space if it manages to float high enough into the atmosphere.
This would cause Mars to dry out even further.
Interest in Mars has increased in recent years and a number of Mission to the surface of the planet are lined up, part of a global effort to colonize the red planet in the coming years.
Disappearing water on Mars isn’t the only mystery on the red planet. Researchers have previously revealed that large amounts of methane seem to be appearing and then abruptly disappearing on Mars.