Here on earth, there are vast amounts of water under the surface of the planet in aquifers and underground reservoirs. Untold numbers of people living in rural America commonly use wells to reach this underground source of water all around the world. Earth has always been the only planet in our solar system known to have vast reservoirs of underground water, but scientists now believe Mars may in fact have its own vast underground water supplies.
Researchers investigated two Martian meteorites that originated from inside Mars and found that the amount of water in places on the Martian mantle is vastly larger than previously estimated. In fact, the scientists estimate that the amount of water in the Martian mantle is similar to what we have here on earth. The meteorites the scientists analyzed are called shergottite meteorites. These are described as younger meteorites that originated from a partial melting of the Martian mantle that crystallized in the shallow Martian subsurface and on the surface of the planet.
The meteorites ended up on earth when they were ejected for Mars about 2.5 million years ago. The scientist looked specifically at the water content of minerals inside the meteorites and estimated that the Martian mantle source that the rocks came from contained between 70 and 300 ppm water. Comparing that to numbers on earth where the upper metal contained between 50 and 300 ppm water, the conclusion is the two planets have similar amounts of water under the surface.
“There has been substantial evidence for the presence of liquid water at the Martian surface for some time,” researcher Erik Hauri said. “So it’s been puzzling why previous estimates for the planet’s interior have been so dry. This new research makes sense and suggests that volcanoes may have been the primary vehicle for getting water to the surface.”
Researcher Francis McCubbin concluded, “Not only does this study explain how Mars got its water, it provides a mechanism for hydrogen storage in all the terrestrial planets at the time of their formation.”