Mars once had liquid water

Study suggests the Red Planet likely had a stable environment, an atmosphere and a magnetic field

Mars once had liquid water

An artist’s impression of the Mars Express spacecraft probing the southern hemisphere of Mars, superimposed on a color mosaic of a portion of Planum Australe. Arizona State University

New information has been found about the surface of Mars which could give more information about the planet’s elusive history.

A study, published in the journal ‘Nature Geoscience’, suggests that the lava-like formations that are found on the Red Planet are unlikely to have come from traditional volcanic eruptions as they would be on earth.

Mars’ northern hemisphere is dotted with conical hills, some of which are topped with small craters. Researchers have postulated that these features were created by mud volcanoes, but this hypothesis has been hard to assess. The pahoehoe-like behaviour is drivenlargely by Mars' low pressure, which cannot support the existence of liquid surface water for long.

This is despite the “tens of thousands of volcano-like landforms [that] populate the northern lowlands and other local sedimentary depocentres on Mars,” the report says.

Researchers suggest mud under Martian environment (where there is rapid freezing, and as such quick formation of icy crusts) flows like “terrestrial pahoehoe lava flows, with liquid mud spilling from ruptures in the frozen crust, and then refreezing to form new flow lobe.”

The information is vital because the presence of mud suggests that water once existed on Mars, which meant that the planet at one point likely had a stable environment, an atmosphere, and a magnetic field that would allow liquid to form on the planet.

“There has to be, or had to be, some sort of aquifer containing liquid water to mobilise the fine-grained sediments and take them to the surface of Mars,” said Petr Brož, a scientist at the Institute of Geophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences. The Independent 

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