Imagining the possibility of the existence of a life on the surface of Mars became much easier once scientists realized that the planet was once covered with water, but the exact mechanics that has affected the water on the old Mars still remains largely mysterious. A new research effort using ESA's Mars Express spacecraft data brings new insights into Mars's water systems and could impact the search for life on the red planet.
The work, which was published in the Journal of Geophysical Research, reveals the existence of an ancient groundwater system on Mars that would have fed lakes and other large bodies of water.
The researchers looked closely at the images and other data associated with two dozen craters on Mars believed to have remained below what scientists currently consider to be the sea level of the planet. The team found clear evidence that the water once filled the big depressions and that the water levels probably changed a lot over time.
"Early March was an aquatic world, but as the climate of the planet had changed, this water had been withdrawn beneath the surface to form pools and" groundwater, "said lead author Francesco Salese in a statement. "We traced this water in our study, its scale and its role being the subject of a debate, and we discovered the first geological evidence of an underground water system at the site. The planet on Mars. "
Researchers have long thought that Mars had a vast ocean and this new study supports and develops this idea. "We think this ocean can be connected to a system of underground lakes that are spreading all over the planet," co-authored Gian Gabriele. Ori explained. "These lakes would have existed about 3.5 billion years ago, so they could be contemporaries of a Martian ocean.
At this point, it is clear that Mars was once a very humid world, but we still do not know if this liquid water has nourished life on the surface of the planet. Future missions on the planet could reveal traces of past life, even microbes that still persist deep beneath the surface. For the moment, however, all that remains is to wonder.