Tags: mars | liquid | water | curiosity

Mars Liquid Water Mystery Stumps Curiosity

Image: Mars Liquid Water Mystery Stumps Curiosity

(NASA)

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 11:32 AM

Mars may have never been warm enough for liquid water to form there, according to new data gathered by the rover Curiosity, leaving researchers to wonder where all the H2O said to be there came from.

Researchers said according to the rover's recent data, Mars would have had too little carbon dioxide about 3.5 billion years ago to create the greenhouse-effect needed to thaw water ice, according to NASA.

"The same Martian bedrock in which Curiosity found sediments from an ancient lake where microbes could have thrived is the source of the evidence adding to the quandary about how such a lake could have existed."

"Curiosity detected no carbonate minerals in the samples of the bedrock it analyzed. The new analysis concludes that the dearth of carbonates in that bedrock means Mars' atmosphere when the lake existed – about 3.5 billion years ago – could not have held much carbon dioxide."

Space.com said there is "decades of evidence" that point to Mars having enough water at one point to support rivers, streams, ponds, and lakes, and maybe even seas and oceans. The possibility of water on Mars has led to the theory that it could have once supported life as well.

But Curiosity hasn't been able to find any carbonate minerals in the samples of the bedrock it analyzed, meaning that Mars' atmosphere when the lake existed could not have held much carbon dioxide, said NASA.

"We've been particularly struck with the absence of carbonate minerals in sedimentary rock the rover has examined," said Thomas Bristow of NASA's Ames Research Center.

"It would be really hard to get liquid water even if there were a hundred times more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than what the mineral evidence in the rock tells us."

The Wall Street Journal said the finding has confounded researchers, who are trying to reconcile how Mars could have such strong evidence of it once supporting liquid water without the finding of carbon dioxide.

Paul Niles, a planetary scientist at NASA's Johnson Space Center who wasn't involved in the research, said one explanation could be that Mars was icy overall with brief repeated warm periods in which water melted and formed the suggestive features of rivers and lakes.

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Mars may have never been warm enough for liquid water to form there, according to new data gathered by the rover Curiosity, leaving researchers to wonder where all the H2O said to be there came from.
mars, liquid, water, curiosity
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2017-32-07
Tuesday, 07 Feb 2017 11:32 AM
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