Using data from the many orbiters, landers, and rovers sent to Mars, scientists yesterday proposed a new model for the loss of water on Mars, suggesting that instead of escaping through its thin atmosphere it was instead chemically trapped in the planet’s crust.
New data challenges the long-held theory that all of Mars’s water escaped into space
Billions of years ago, the Red Planet was far more blue; according to evidence still found on the surface, abundant water flowed across Mars and forming pools, lakes, and deep oceans. The question, then, is where did all that water go?
The answer: nowhere. According to new research from Caltech and JPL, a significant portion of Mars’s water—between 30 and 99 percent—is trapped within minerals in the planet’s crust. The research challenges the current theory that the Red Planet’s water escaped into space.
First, this is only a model. It proves nothing, and carries many assumptions based on our limited knowledge. We mustn’t accept it at face value.
Second, the first sentence quoted above from this Caltech press release is an example of a trick the scientists have played that our ignorant press has fallen far. What the press release implies superficially is that Mars is now a barren dry place, with little water. Researchers (and readers of Behind the Black) know however that this description is not accurate, that the planet apparently has a lot of water still, only that it is confined as buried ice to latitudes above 30 degrees. Only the equatorial regions appear dry, but not the rest of the planet.
Regardless, this new hypothesis is important if true, as it will help provide an explanation for the Red Planet’s entire geological and climatic history. It might even help solve the mystery of the liquid water that appears to have once existed there, on a planet whose atmosphere is too thin and cold to allow for such a thing.
On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.
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