How Mars Lost Its Water, a Crucial Component of Life.
According to a study, Mars’ liquid water, which is essential for life, may have evaporated due to its small size.
According to Washington University researchers, the Red Planet’s size may be the main reason it lost liquid water and looks so different from Earth’s “blue marble” despite being so close.
The proposal, which was presented in an article published in the journal PNAS, is one of several proposed to explain why liquid water no longer flows across Mars’ surface.
In a news release from Washington University, co-author Kun Wang, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences, remarked, “Mars’ fate was decided from the beginning.”
We’ve known that water once flowed freely on Mars since at least 1971, when the Mariner 9 Mars probe took photographs of dried river beds on the Red Planet’s surface. More dry lake beds and river basins have been discovered since then by subsequent trips.
According to scientists at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), there was enough water on Mars four billion years ago to cover the entire planet in a 1,500-meter-deep ocean (4,921 feet).
The fact that water only appears to exist on Mars as ice at high elevations raises the question of what happened to the planet’s liquid water.
What Happened to Mars’ Water?
Wang and the Washington University team examined a stable form of potassium, or isotope, in 20 proven Martian meteorites to come to the conclusion that Mars lost its water due to its small size. Potassium is a useful indicator of volatiles, which are quickly vaporized substances such as water.
The researchers had previously used the same technology to study the formation of the moon. Mars clung to its volatiles for much longer than smaller worlds like the moon and the asteroid 4-Vesta, according to the researchers.
“With a mass greater than Mars, there is likely a limitation on the size needs of rocky planets to retain enough water to support habitability and plate tectonics,” Wang added.
This implies that the larger a planet or other space object is, the longer it is likely to hang on to its volatiles, such as water, which is a necessary component of life.
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