Scientists have long studied the possibility of water on Mars, analyzing evidence that suggests liquid water existed on the Red Planet in the past. Recent evidence of gullies formed within the last decade raises the possibility of liquid water on or near the surface. These findings are incredibly significant, because where there’s water there may be life.
While scientists have concluded that Mars, like Earth, was once a watery planet, there is little evidence to support the existence of liquid water today. It is now a frozen, dry planet. Having developed a thin atmosphere, Mars never has rain—water vapour in the air evaporates or becomes unstable. With a reduced ability for greenhouse gases to trap solar heat in a thin atmosphere, Mars is now too cold for abundant liquid water on its surface.
Some of the water that used to exist on Mars has seeped into the ground and become subsurface ice. We’ve long known there are layers of carbon-dioxide and of water ice at the planet’s poles. Yet there is also new evidence for a vast frozen sea that lies just beneath the surface, protected from melting by a layer of volcanic ash. Although it never rains on Mars, it is thought that carbon dioxide condenses to form a fine “snow” during the planet’s polar
Mar 30th, 2015
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