NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter: new dating of the presence of water on Mars

As far as on March arrived (in orbit or on the ground) different space missions, we do not have a really precise idea of ​​its history. This is an important point because it would allow us to know how exoplanets in the Universe and planets with a structure similar to Earth could evolve.

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To get a more accurate view, the data collected by the probe was used NASA Martian Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), which has already been fundamental in the past thanks to its powerful camera. These provided a new estimate of whenthe water gave up the red planet leaving behind only a bit of ice, dust and sand. Water is considered a key element for this development of life. Its presence or absence determines whether (microbial) life ever existed on a planet other than Earth.

Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the presence of water on Mars

In a recent studypublished late last year, the scientists used data collected over 15 years since Mars reconnaissance orbiter (MRO) of the Nasa understand whether previously made estimates of the presence of the water on the red planet were correct or could be revised. Ellen K. Leask And Bethany L. Ehlmann (the two authors of the study) believe they have found evidence of the presence of water for longer than previously claimed.

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Earlier evidence dated from the presence of water to March until about 3 billion years ago. Due to changes in the planet’s atmosphere, which has shrunk over time, the Sun managed to evaporate much of the water that was present on the surface, creating the desert planet we know today. today.

However, the new evidence would show that there may have been liquid water As long as 2 billion years ago (or within 3.3 billion years), a billion years longer than previously thought. This could have given life forms more time to grow and evolve and so now it might be possible to find signs of it as well thanks to missions such as NASA Perseverance.


To understand how the events unfolded, scientists used data from the instrument Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) with a resolution of 18 to 40 m/pixel. These made it possible to search for chloride salts present on the surface and which would indicate where there were once watercourses. In an attempt to date the age of the area of ​​interest, an estimate was made based on the number of impact craters present on the surface. Fewer craters means (potentially) a newer surface.

Data from was also used Context room and the powerful camera HiRISE to allow you to have more details on the structure of the areas of interest. The data showed that salts were present in water troughs that were once likely shallow ponds. Dried up canals and streams that could supply lakes and ponds were then discovered.

According to the findings, the chloride deposits that have been identified in the southern highlands of March they must come from small volumes of water. The data did not identify the presence of groundwater that could have given rise to these phenomena, although it is probably the melting of seasonal glaciers. In particular, the distribution south of the equator could also be associated with snow deposition.


As scientists searched for traces of past water, the presence of water was also detected frozen water in certain slopes oriented towards the poles of March. These images were taken in winter, while in other seasons the presence of ice was not detected, which shows that these are transient events. This is not an absolute novelty, but it does make it possible to determine the quantity of water still present on the planet. In general, it was concluded that chloride deposits on Marchdated between 3.4 and 2.3 billion years ago, has shown the presence of the last large-scale bodies of water for the red planet.

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