NASA Discovers Evidence of Mars Water Reservoir in Meteorites
There has been plenty of evidence that Mars was once host to liquid water, enough to cause major flooding. But in what NASA calls the "missing water" problem, the Red Planet's atmosphere will no longer allow for liquid water, and scientists have no idea where it all went. The search for the "missing water" may be over, however, as NASA scientists have discovered evidence of a global subsurface water reservoir while studying Mars meteorites.
Recent data from Curiosity and other rovers have revealed the presence of subsurface ice, as well as a dried Martian lake at Gale crater. In this study, by examining the hydrogen isotopic composition of Mars meteorites of different ages, they were able to confirm that a hydrogen reservoir stayed intact over a significant period of time. Although there is a chance that the reservoir was hydrated rock, the researchers believe that the concentration of certain chemicals such as chlorine indicate that it existed as ice.
"There have been hints of a third planetary water reservoir in previous studies of Martian meteorites, but our new data require the existence of a water or ice reservoir that also appears to have exchanged with a diverse set of Martian samples," said lead author Tomohiro Usui. "Until this study there was no direct evidence for this surface reservoir or interaction of it with rocks that have landed on Earth from the surface of Mars."
The study may be "key to understanding climate history and the potential for life on Mars," NASA wrote in a statement. Furthermore, if we are able to understand the climate shift that turned the liquid water to a subsurface reservoir of ice, then we may be able to make projections about Earth's long-term habitability.