Scientists Find Massive Water Source on Mars, 20 Times Wider than the Grand Canyon

Planet Mars has a canyon similar to the Grand Canyon on Earth. Scientists suspect, the possibility of water on Mars stored in a canyon system on the red planet. According to the European Space Agency (ESA), the findings were collected from data from the orbiter that surrounds Mars, the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, which was launched in 2016. The Mars spacecraft was launched as a joint mission between ESA and Roscosmos, to detect water in Valles Marineris on the planet Mars.

This canyon system on Mars is 10 times longer, even five times deeper and 20 times wider than the Grand Canyon on Earth. Experts reveal that water on Mars lies beneath the surface of the canyon system and is detected by the FREND orbiter or Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron instrument. Detector. This instrument is able to map hydrogen in the top meters on the surface of the planet Mars. Most of the water on Mars lies in the planet's polar regions and remains frozen as water ice. Valles Marineris sits just south of the planet's equator, where temperatures are usually not cold enough for water ice on Mars to persist. Observational data on potential water in the planet's canyons This Mars was collected by the orbiter between May 2018 and February 2021. Previously, other orbiters have searched for water just below the Martian surface and detected small amounts beneath the Martian dust. A study detailing the findings of water on Mars in the canyon was published Wednesday in the journal Icarus.

"With (Trace Gas Orbite) we can look down to a meter below this dusty layer and see what's really going on beneath the Martian surface. And, most importantly, find water-rich 'oases' that can't be detected with the tools on the instrument. before," said study author Igor Mitrofanov, principal investigator of the FREND neutron telescope, in a statement.

He added that the FREND instrument revealed areas of unusually large amounts of hydrogen in Mars' Valles Marineris canyon system. The assumption is that the observed hydrogen bonds to water molecules, as much as 40 percent of the material near the Martian surface in this region appears to be water.

The researchers described the area of ​​the Martian canyon as roughly the size of the Netherlands. The FREND instrument searches for neutrons to map the hydrogen content on the Martian surface.

"We can infer how much water is in the ground by looking at the neutrons it emits," said study co-author Alexey Malakhov, a senior scientist with the Space Research Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

According to Malakhov, the unique ability of this Mars observation probe has allowed researchers to detect the presence of water on Mars that remains hidden. The hidden water could be water ice or water attached to minerals in the soil. However, scientists believe the presence of ice is more likely because the minerals in the canyon site contain less water.

"This finding is a great first step, but we need more observations to know exactly what form of water we are dealing with," said study co-author Håkan Svedhem, former project scientist for the orbiter.

Future missions to Mars will land at lower latitudes. The discovery of this potential water in the Martian canyon at Valles Marineris highlights the feature as an attractive place for potential human exploration in the years to come. Especially since this Martian water will much more accessible than previously discovered subsurface water sources. In 2022, the European rover Rosalind Franklin and the Russian surface platform Kazachok will launch, expected to land on Mars in 2023. The rover will drill beneath the Martian surface in search of organic material that could reveal whether Mars once harbored life. The rover will also explore Oxia Planum, an ancient rock site on the planet Mars, which is rich in clay that was once exposed to water.


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