Scientists have learned when Mars became a desert


The Rover Opportunity discovered on the surface of Mars a few meteorites that have helped scientists figure out how fast the red planet lost water and when it came the eternal drought, according to a paper published in the journal Nature Communications.

Today we have existing evidence suggests that Mars had water and potential planet three billion years ago. On the other hand, our survey shows, now on Mars there is virtually no water. If it is and there life, that she’s hiding is clearly not where fell these meteorites, likely somewhere in great depth, away from radiation and waterless desert surface, says Christian schröder (Christian Schroeder) at the University of Stirling (UK).

In early February 2013, Curiosity Rover first tried a drill, able to drill through solid rock to a depth of about seven inches. Then for drilling was selected a flat stone, located in a small basin, which was given the name John Klein. Examine samples of stone dust for the first time allowed scientists to prove that Mars in the deep past was fresh water and that such water bodies have been favorable for microbial life.

What happened next, the fourth Rover NASA has not yet figured out – he’s still climbing to the top of mount sharp in the Gale crater, which was formed in a much later historical epoch. The study of these rocks, as scientists hope, will give us definite data as quickly disappeared oceans, rivers and lakes of Mars and how it happened.

It turned out that to wait for this moment do not have. Schroeder and his colleagues were able to observe water evolution of Mars in the last few hundred million years due to unexpected space assistants – four meteorites falling on Mars in the vicinity of the equator of the red planet. These meteorites have been found in Victoria crater and thoroughly investigated the older brother of Curiosity, the Mars Rover Opportunity, which is already 12 years old travels on the red planet.

How meteorites can help to solve the mystery of missing water on Mars? The fact is, scientists explain that many types of stony meteorites contain enough iron and other metals, which are gradually oxidized and converted into various salts and hydroxides under the action of oxygen and water.

Accordingly, the more water and oxygen present in the air, the more oxidized iron will be present on the surface of the meteorite. Following this idea, the researchers analyzed the spectra of these celestial rocks from Mars using instruments of the Rover, and compared them with the data that was obtained from the analysis of meteorites that fell to Earth.

This analysis showed that Mars has always been an extremely dry planet since that time, as the fall of these meteorites scientists estimate that the air of the red planet destroys meteorites approximately four orders of magnitude (10 thousand times) slower than the dry hot deserts such as the Sahara and Atacama, and Antarctic cold deserts on Earth.

Given the age of these meteorites from 20 to 70 million years – it’s safe to say that in the relatively recent geological past, Mars was always dry. When began the great drought, it is not clear, but this discovery already suggests that life and liquid water on the surface of the red planet is unlikely to exist today, the scientists conclude.

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