What really happened to water on Mars? Scientists finally have the answer!

Edited By: Bharat Sharma WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Mar 17, 2021, 02:04 PM(IST)

A handout picture provided on February 14, 2021 by the United Arab Emirates Space Agency (UAESA) taken by the Emirates eXploration Imager (EXI)  Photograph:( AFP )

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Researchers claim that even though a lot of water was lost, majority of it remains on the planet!

Our red neighbour Mars hosted lakes and oceans for a long time billions of years ago. But where did all the water go? Turns out, scientists may finally have the answer to disappearance of water from the Red Planet.

It has been believed for long that the water was lost to space. But now, scientists claim that the water is trapped within minerals in Mars’ crust. The study, funded by NASA says that between 30-99 per cent of the initial water which was on Mars remains trapped inside minerals.

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Eva Scheller, lead author of the paper published in Science, told AFP that that the “crust forms what we call hydrated minerals”. These are minerals with water in their crystal structure. Earlier estimates suggest that Mars had at least 100 to 1,500 metres of ocean, covering different parts of the planet.

Over time, the planet lost its magnetic field due to which its atmosphere died off over time. Scientists believed that the water also perished during this time. Now, researchers claim that even though a lot of water was lost, majority of it remains on the planet.

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They reached this conclusion by focusing on hydrogen - a key component of water. They observed the data of Mars rovers, supplementing it with information of meteorites from the planet. Scientists believe the water was lost to two mechanisms: the trapping of water in crust’s minerals, and loss of water to the atmosphere.

They say that the planet lost most of its water four to 3.7 billion years ago. This essentially means that Mars as we know it today has existed for the last three billion years.

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