The latest revelation by NASA’s Curiosity Rover has puzzled many. It has been able to solve the mystery regarding the presence of water on Mars.
The Curiosity Rover has previously found that the Martian environment was conducive to the presence of water, which hints that the planet may have possibly been able to support life.
However, the latest data shows that Mars had way to little carbon dioxide (CO2) nearly 3.5 billion years ago to give way to a greenhouse-effect warming, which would thaw water ice. Previous theories have suggested that thick CO2 in the Martian atmosphere aided the formation of a greenhouse blanket, which in turn warmed the surface of the Red Planet.
The conclusion has been arrived at as the Curiosity Rover studied the same rock which once indicated the existence of a lake on Mars. It did not detect the presence of any carbonate minerals in the bedrock samples it analysed.
The latest research surmises that due the lack of carbonates in the rock, the Martian atmosphere may not have had much CO2 when the lake was in existence 3.5 billion years ago.
Mars: A Wet Planet?
In 2013, Curiosity found out that the quality of water available on the planet was good enough to drink. The team came to this conclusion by researching and studying fine materials on the planet’s surface that contained 2 percent water per weight.
In its early days, the Gale Crater could be simply described as a glacial lake surrounded by masses of ice. Researchers stated that the environmental condition could be considered similar to what Greenland and the Canadian Arctic are today.
The findings suggested further that over the last 3.5 billion years, Mars has lost almost 87 percent of its water resources and therefore turned dry and barren.
About 3.5 billion years ago Mars had low CO2 levels in its thin atmospheric layers which was considered to be the reason behind the non-existence of liquid water lake in the Gale Crater.
The Martian atmosphere did not have enough CO2 to warm the planet and in turn create lakes. Due to lower percentage of CO2, there weren’t enough sediments settling down in areas like Gale Crater.
The latest findings reveal that the sediments that were deposited on Gale Crater was almost between 10 to 100 times less than the minimum temperature that was required for the surface temperature to be. The situation is different on Earth as the atmospheric CO2 interacts with water. CO2 plays a significant role in heating the Earth as it generates the greenhouse effect.
Therefore NASA team of researchers have shared that the notion of ancient Mars having water is absolutely farcical as the atmosphere did not have sufficient CO2.
“The rover has not found carbonates, thereby confirming the results of studies by all previous probes: carbonates are very scarce on the surface of Mars and, therefore, the CO2 level in the atmosphere was very low” noted a researcher Alberto Fairén.