Tech - News
New Discovery Challenges What We Know About Water On Mars
Today, Mars is a dry, inhospitable desert, but billions of years ago, the planet was very different, and may even have looked a lot like Earth. In fact, researchers think that it had abundant liquid water on its surface, which formed rivers, lakes, and even oceans; currently, the Perseverance rover is exploring the dried-up bed of an ancient lake, which could have hosted life.
Although there are regions where water ice is present, such as in craters and near the poles, and also potentially beneath the planet's surface, liquid water is absent, which will be a challenge for future explorers there. Now, new research using data from China's Zhurong rover suggests that water might have hung around for longer than previously thought.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences found the presence of hydrated minerals in the Mars samples, meaning that the minerals formed in the presence of water.The findings challenge the previous assumption that water was present on Mars up until around three billion years ago, instead positing that it could have been there as recently as two billion years ago.
Water is important for crewed missions not only so that astronauts have something to drink, but also for use as rocket propellant for launching off the surface. Water is too heavy to bring along on a rocket mission in large quantities, so astronauts will have to find a source of water on Mars by either baking minerals to extract it or finding a source of ice to melt.