According to the Chinese, There Was Water on Mars Recently

Zuhurong Rover
Zuhurong Rover

Chinese rover has found evidence that water has been found on Mars much sooner than previously thought. Working with the team of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Copenhagen, they have found evidence that water has been found on Mars much sooner than previously thought. In their paper published in the journal Science Advances, the group provides an analysis of data from China's Zhurong rover and details on ice in hydrated minerals.

Previous research has suggested that parts of the Martian surface were covered with water until about 3 billion years ago.

The time elapsed since the water dried up on Mars is known as the Amazonia period. In this new study, data from the Chinese rover Zhurong showed researchers evidence that water on Mars may persist longer than previously thought.

The rover Zhurong has been lurking in a crater on the Martian surface for nearly a year. During this time, he used two of his spectrometers to analyze the rocks.

chinese rover finds home
Zhurong Rover facing land. Landing area, ruts and a small dune landscape. Credit: China National Space Administration (CNSA)

He also took pictures of the rocks using the microimaging camera.

By comparing the evidence they found in rocks on Mars with rocks on Earth, the researchers found that some of the rocks were hydrated minerals, which are water-containing minerals.

They also found examples of durikrust layers; Their formation would require large volumes of water, either rising from below the surface or melting large volumes of ice, they said.

What is Duricrust?

Duricrust is a hard layer on or near the soil surface. Durikrusts can vary in thickness from a few millimeters or centimeters to several meters.

A general term (not to be confused with duripan) for a zone of chemical precipitation and hardening that occurs at or near the surface of sedimentary bodies by pedogenic and (or) non-pedogenic processes. It is typically formed by the deposition of soluble minerals, deposited by mineral-bearing waters that move up, down, or laterally by capillary action, often assisted in arid environments by evaporation. There are different durikrusts, each distinguished by a dominant mineralogy.

For example, iron sesquioxides dominate iron concrete (laterite); sesquioxides of alcrete (bauxite) aluminum predominate; silcrete with silica; calcrete (caliche) with calcium carbonate and gypsum (gypcrust) with gypsum.

Durikrusts need to occur in absolute accumulation, so they need to have a source, transmission and precipitation.

Duricrust is often studied during missions to Mars because it can help prove that the planet once had more water. Duricrust was found on Mars at the Viking 2 landing site, and a similar structure nicknamed the "Snow Queen" was found under the Phoenix landing site.

Phoenix's duricrust was later confirmed to be water-based.

If we go back to our article;

The researchers suggest that water must have persisted on Mars for longer than thought to account for hydrated minerals on its surface, perhaps much longer.

They also suggest that the presence of such rocks at the surface indicates the possibility of ground ice. If that's the case, future astronauts could use it for a wide variety of purposes.

The findings support evidence from other research efforts that suggest that in more recent times Mars not only had water on its surface, but also flowed and created sculptural rock features.


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