Mars can today look like a dry and dusty planet. But scientific models indicate that it was likely that it once housed huge amounts of water, both above and below its surface – and now researchers have evidence to back up these models.
"Early March was an aquatic world, but as the climate of the planet had changed, this water had been withdrawn beneath the surface to form pools and" groundwater ", said the agency researcher European Space Agency (ESA) in a press release: "We have drawn this water in our study, because its scale and role are the subject of debate," he continued, "and we discovered the first geological evidence of a groundwater system covering the entire planet on Mars ".
Using the data of a trio of instruments – the high-resolution stereoscopic camera (HRSC) embedded in Mars Express ESA spacecraft, the HiRISE high-level science experiment NASA Resolution (HiRISE) and Contextual Camera on Board Mars Reconnaissance Mars of NASA – ESA researchers have explored two dozen closed crater projects in the northern hemisphere of Mars .
The team discovered on the soils of these craters features suggesting that the craters once contained "puddles and streams of water that have changed and retreated over time."
They have even been able to estimate past water levels and have found that they correspond to the expected shores of an ocean that, in the opinion of many, existed on Mars there are three or four billion d & # 39; years, and that could have been connected to a system of underground lakes.
Life on Mars
Water being a key indicator of life, any trace of water on Mars attests to the idea that the planet once housed living organisms.
But the evidence of a groundwater system is not the only ESA discovery with implications for life on Mars: in five of the craters she examined, the team also found signs of minerals that previous research has linked to the emergence of life on Earth.
As Dmitri Titov, Mars Express Project scientist, explains, this discovery could help researchers locate locations on Mars that may contain evidence of past life on the red planet, which could bring us closer to the future. a day on the path to an extraterrestrial life.