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Hidden water on Mars

Date: 23 December 2021 Tags: Space

Issue

A Mars orbiter launched by a space organisation has spotted water in Mars’ canyon system called the Valles Marineris.

 

Background

Various studies have shown that water may have been present on Mars at some point of time, before evaporating.

 

Details

The discovery was made by Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a joint mission of European Space Agency and the Russian Roscosmos.

 

Discovery

  • The orbiter made use of Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO)’s Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector (FREND) instrument to make the discovery.

  • Instead of studying the light emitted from the surface, the hydrogen content of Mars’s soil was located by detecting neutrons.

 

Location

  • The Unusual amount of hydrogen was identified in the Candor Chaos, situated in the central region of the canyon.

  • About 40 per cent of the near-surface material region appears to be water. The water-rich area is about the size of the Netherlands.

 

Importance of discovery

  • Studying water on Mars is essential to understand what happened to Mars’ once-abundant water resources and also the reasons for their disappearance.

  • It will also help in identifying habitable environments, possible signs of past life, and organic materials from Mars’ earliest days. This will play an important role during future human missions.

 

Valles Marineris

The Valles Marineris canyon system is the largest in the Solar System and is about ten times longer and five times deeper than Earth’s Grand Canyon.