Seawater found on Mars

Seawater found on Mars

Science

2020-05-01 17:43:00

The surface of Mars and its shallow subsoil are not suitable for living organisms, because the liquid on the planet is formed in rather harsh conditions and cannot exist for a long time in a stable state. This conclusion was reached by scientists on the basis of modeling the behavior of Martian "brine" in modern conditions. An article describing the results of the study was published in Nature Astronomy.

 

Today there are no liquid rivers and lakes on Mars - water on it is found only in the form of ice deposits and a small amount of steam in the atmosphere. This is due to the fact that the planet is very cold (the average annual temperature is approximately − 60 degrees Celsius), and the pressure at the surface is 160 times less than the Earth 's, as a result of which the water immediately turns into a gaseous state instead of melting. However, scientists haven’t abandon attempts to detect liquid water on Mars and, as it turned out, luck turned to them. The fact is that even at temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius, water can be in a liquid state due to the salts dissolved in it. In 2015, physicist Lujendra Oja discovered dark bands on the planet that could have been seasonal streams containing chloric acid salts as scientists thought. It was subsequently revealed that these were likely streams of sand, but the discovery spurred astronomers to new research.

 

Edgar Rivera-Valentín of the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston along with colleagues conducted computer simulations to determine how salt water would behave on the surface of Mars. The researchers combined weather information, spacecraft measurements and laboratory experiment data with salts that are found on the Martian surface (magnesium perchlorate and calcium perchlorate) to understand how stable will the solutions of these salts be and where they can form. For magnesium perchlorate, the activity index, which can be considered as a measure of salinity (1 - distilled water, 0 - pure salt) was 0.56 and for calcium perchlorate 0.52.

 

It became clear that "brine" can be met on 40 percent of a surface of Mars, generally in middle and high northern latitudes. However, it will exist in a stable state only seasonally (0.04 percent of year or about 6 hours in 687 Earth days). Besides, its temperature will turn out extremely low — about-48 degrees Celsius, that is about 25 degrees lower than the known allowed value for life on Earth. Based on this, researchers concluded that known to us organisms will not be able to exist in the similar environment.

 

Authors do not exclude that there can be as yet not found life forms on Earth which can live comfortably in these conditions. On the other hand, their results show that the risk of biological pollution of Mars is quite low that can be useful at future missions.

 

Today many researches show that in the ancient time the climate of Mars was much more favorable for existence of organisms. So, certain group of scientists came to a conclusion that about four billion years ago litotrofa — the microorganisms using energy of inorganic compounds — could theoretically live there. Today search of life on Mars is assosiated with registration in the atmosphere a methane — the frequent satellite of live organisms on Earth.

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