Mars: scientists say there could be a compound very different from water on the surface

Mars: scientists say there could be a compound very different from water on the surface


A group of scientists determined that the reflections detected on Mars and classified as liquid water could be due to the presence of other minerals on the surface. Through a computer simulation, experts concluded that there might be no water at the red planet’s south pole.

Some time ago, and thanks to the use of the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, bright reflections were detected below the surface of the south polar layered deposit (SPLD) of Mars. At the time it was cataloged as a relatively pure water ice formation 1.4 kilometers thick. Some scientists even interpreted the observations, collected by the MARSIS instrument (Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding), as evidence of liquid water.

However, as the studies progressed, the investigators of the case determined that they could be other mineral substances that are quite different from water. As explained in the journal Nature Astronomy, they were able to reach this conclusion after doing simulations on a computer and seeing that other elements generated the same reflections.

“This result, combined with other recent work, casts doubt on the likelihood of finding liquid water below the SPLD,” expressed the authors of the article. Likewise, Dan Lalich, a research associate at the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences (A&S), explained: “On Earth, such bright reflections are often an indication of liquid water. But on Mars, the prevailing opinion was that it should be too cold for similar lakes to form.”

Lalich used a one-dimensional modeling procedure commonly used to interpret MARSIS observations to test for various minerals that might make the same reflection. He created simulations with layers composed of four materials (atmosphere, water ice, carbon dioxide ice, and basalt) and assigned each layer a corresponding permittivity, an intrinsic property of the material that describes its interaction with electromagnetic radiation passing through it.

Simulations that followed this same pattern of layers separated by a layer of dusty ice produced reflections just as bright as those emitted from Mars. For this reason, many doubts arose about the possible

Scientists discover what the shape of raindrops on Mars and other planets is like

Harvard researchers found that raindrops are remarkably similar in different planetary environmentseven planets as drastically different as Earth and Jupiter.

understand the behavior of raindrops on other planets is key not only to revealing ancient weather on planets like Marsbut also to identify potentially habitable planets outside our solar system.

“The life cycle of clouds is really important when we think about the habitability of the planet,” Kaitlyn Loftus, a graduate student in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and lead author of the paper, said in a statement. “But clouds and precipitation are really complicated and too complex to fully model.. We’re looking for simpler ways to understand how clouds evolve, and a first step is whether cloud droplets evaporate in the atmosphere or reach the surface as rain.”

“The humble raindrop is a vital component of the precipitation cycle of all planets,” said Robin Wordsworth, associate professor of environmental science and engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and senior author. article main. “By understanding how individual raindrops behave, we can better represent rainfall in complex climate models.“.

An essential aspect of raindrop behavior, at least for climate modellers, is whether or not the droplet reaches the planet’s surface because water in the atmosphere plays an important role in planetary climate. To that end, size matters. Too big and the droplet will break apart due to insufficient surface tension, regardless of whether it’s water, methane, or superheated liquid iron like on an exoplanet called WASP-76b.. Too small and the droplet will evaporate before it hits the surface.


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