A major discovery on the surface of Mars could have massive implications for our understanding of the Red Planet, and a future manned mission there.
Scientists have just stumbled upon a truly remarkable discovery about Mars and its mysterious past, and it suggests that the planet looked totally different than it does today not so long ago. The new study, using NASA’s Maven spacecraft, found that the Martian atmosphere was slowly stripped away by solar wind and radiation, turning Mars from a world that could have resembled Earth and supported life to the barren wasteland it is today.
Researchers think that whatever gas may have once existed in the Martian atmosphere has long seen been lost to space bsaed on the latest test results, which indicate that 65 percent of the argon that once existed in the atmosphere is now gone. The study was published in the journal Science by the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Because that atmosphere was stripped away, liquid water isn’t stable on the surface of Mars today because the atmosphere is simply too thin and cold. That water would be necessary to support and sustain life. But evidence such as riverbeds and minerals that only form from water suggest that at some point in the past, this was not the case, and Mars may have been a gorgeous waterworld with at least some form of basic life.
“We’ve determined that most of the gas ever present in the Mars atmosphere has been lost to space,” said Bruce Jakosky, principal investigator for MAVEN and a professor at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP). “The team made this determination from the latest result, which reveals that about 65 percent of the argon that was ever in the atmosphere has been lost to space.”
“We determined that the majority of the planet’s CO2 also has been lost to space by sputtering,” said Jakosky. “There are other processes that can remove CO2, so this gives the minimum amount of CO2 that’s been lost to space.”