Wetter Red Planet? Ancient Mars May Have Had More Water Than Thought

  • Wetter Red Planet? Ancient Mars May Have Had More Water Than Thought

Wetter Red Planet? Ancient Mars May Have Had More Water Than Thought

And that in turn means that Mars may have been a wetter place than had been thought, according to the worldwide study, which was done in part at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

To test the theory about the original composition of Martian meteorite, the worldwide research team at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, created a synthetic version of the hydrogen-containing whitlockite.

Up till now, a particular mineral detected in Martian meteorites was estimated to be the only proof of the ancient and dry environment of Mars.

Merrillite, the mineral found in meteorite from Red Planet, is regarded as an indicator of dry environments.

"When we analyzed what came out of the capsule, we found a significant amount of the whitlockite had dehydrated to the mineral merrillite", said Adcock. Then they conducted shock-compression experiments on their ersatz whitlockite, aping the violence with which meteorites get ejected from Mars. The conversion is thought to be caused by the asteroid impacts that blasted the Red Planet rocks toward Earth. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications. But scientists from University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) say the Red Planet, in its ancient days, might also have encompassed hydrogen, which is a necessary element of both water and life. What all this boils down to is that once upon a time, Mars could have been wet, even very wet, and had conditions appropriate for the development of life.

Adding to the intrigue, the hydrogen-containing whitlockite is water-soluble and contains phosphorus, one of the key building blocks for life on Earth, the researchers said.

For the sake of their study - titled "Shock-Transformation of Whitlockite to Merrillite and the Implications for Meteoritic Phosphate", which appeared recently in the journal Nature Communications - the worldwide research team considered another possibility.

Scientists have found that Mars was likely far wetter - and capable of supporting life - than previously thought. While up to now, no absolute credence has found which can officially corroborate the presence of water on ancient Mars, a new global study has come up with some interesting, may be a solid credential about the presence of water on ancient Mars.

The finding comes amid a number of recent revelations about water on Mars.

"The only missing link now is to prove that [merrillite] had, in fact, really been Martian whitlockite before", Tschauner said.

Or go to Mars, collect some rocks and bring them home. "We have to go back to the real meteorites and see if there had been traces of water".

How does one identify a meteorite from Mars, anyway?

For years now, scientists have understood that Mars was once a warmer, wetter place. As suggested by the study, the previous hypothesis and narration about water and life on Mars's surface might be completely mistaken.