July 5, 2022

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Scientists have discovered “hidden water” three feet below the Grand Canyon of Mars

Exomars Orbiter European Space Agency Evidence has been found for the existence of a large reservoir beneath the Valles Marineris Mars Valley, one of the largest valleys in the Solar System, about five times deeper and ten times longer than the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

The scientists evaluated the data recorded by the TGO (Gas Tracking Orbiter) Frend (Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector) instrument, which maps the hydrogen to the highest meter of the ground. Tuesday, A way to measure water content, to create innovation.

Trial, Accepted for publication In the magazine Icarus, The size of the Netherlands, with large and unusual amounts of hydrogen, exposed a part of the valley.

“If we assume that the hydrogen we see is bound to water molecules, up to 40 percent of the materials near the surface in this region appear to be water,” said Igor Mitrofanov, lead research author at the American Academy of Sciences. Russia in Moscow.

“TGO can look up to a meter below this layer of dust and see what’s really going on beneath the surface of Mars, and more importantly, detect water-filled ‘oases’ that cannot be detected by instruments. The former,” Dr. Mitrofanov said.

Although previous studies have found evidence of deep groundwater in the mid-latitudes of the Red Planet and evidence of deep pools of liquid water below the South Pole of Mars, these potential deposits are located a few kilometers below the surface of the earth and will not be accessible to humans in the future. Study more than the others found just below the surface.

New research reveals evidence of “large, very shallow and easily exploited reservoir” in this part of Mars.

Scientists believe that an area in the center of the Wallace Marineris may have been filled with water similar to parts of the earth’s frozen soil, such as Siberia, where water ice persists permanently under arid soils due to constant low temperatures.

In the study, the researchers analyzed data recorded from May 2018 to February 2021 by the Friend tool that mapped the hydrogen content of Mars’ soil by detecting neutrons.

Neutrons are formed when high-energy particles called ‘galactic cosmic rays’ collide with Mars; Dry soil emits more neutrons than wet soil, so we can see how much water there is in a soil by looking at the neutrons it emits, ”explained Alexei Malakov, co-author of a study at the Russian Academy of Sciences.

“Frend’s unique tracking technology provides more spatial clarity than previous measurements of this type, allowing us to now see previously unseen features,” Dr. Malakhov added.

The researchers believe that the observed water deposits may be in the form of ice or water chemically bonded with other minerals in the soil.

But based on other studies, they say the minerals found in this part of Mars generally contain a small percentage of water, “far less than these new observations show.”

“In general, we think this water is more likely to be in the form of ice,” Dr. Malakov said.

However, the researchers added that further research is needed to determine what kind of water is present in these deposits in this part of the valley.

Scientists say that when water and ice generally evaporate in this part of Mars due to temperatures and pressures near the equator, there must be a perfect combination of temperature, pressure and hydration to prevent water loss on the planet.

They say Valles Marineris has a “special combination of conditions that are not yet clear” to conserve water.

Otherwise, the researchers speculate that the water may have been filled in some way by a still-unknown process.

“This discovery is an exciting first step, but more observations are needed to determine for sure what kind of water we are dealing with,” said Hakan Swethem, co-author of the study. ESTEC From the ESA in the Netherlands.

“Regardless of the results, the invention demonstrates the incomparable capabilities of the tools TGO We need to allow them to ‘see’ below the surface of Mars, ”said Dr. Swethem said.