Chinese rover finds evidence that water was present on Mars more recently than thought

Chinese rover finds evidence that water was present on Mars more recently than thought

Chinese Rover Recently Finds Evidence Of Water On Mars Than Previously Thought

Zhurong rover looking back at the lander. A view of the landing pad, tire tracks and a small sand dune. Photo credit: China National Space Administration (CNSA)

A team of researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, in collaboration with a colleague from the University of Copenhagen, have found evidence that water was present on Mars more recently than previously thought. In her article published in the journal scientific advancesthe group describes their analysis of data from China’s Zhurong rover and what they have shown them about ice in hydrated minerals.

Previous research has found that parts of the surface of Mars were covered with water until about 3 billion years ago. The time since the water dried up on Mars is known as the Amazonian period. In this new attempt, data from the Chinese rover Zhurong has provided researchers with evidence that the water on Mars may have existed longer than previously thought.

Rover Zhurong has been in an impact crater on the surface of Mars for about a year. During this time it has used its two spectrometers to analyze rocks. It also takes pictures of the rocks with its photomicrograph camera. The rover also blasts them with a laser to create smoke that can be analyzed. The researchers compared the signatures they found in the rocks on Mars to rocks on Earth and found that some of the rocks are hydrated minerals, meaning minerals that contain water. They also found instances of Duricrust layers that would have required a large volume of water to form, either rising from below the surface or from a large body of melting ice.

Chinese Rover Recently Finds Evidence Of Water On Mars Than Previously Thought

A view of the landing pad and heat shield. Photo credit: China National Space Administration (CNSA)

The researchers suggest that water must have existed on Mars longer than has been thought to account for the hydrated minerals on its surface — perhaps much longer. They also suggest that the existence of such rocks on the surface indicates the possibility of ground ice. If that’s the case, future astronauts could use it for a variety of purposes.

The results reinforce evidence from other research efforts that suggests that more recently Mars not only had water on its surface, but that it also flowed and created sculpted rock formations.


Data from the Mars rover Zhurong shows evidence of wind and possibly water erosion


More information:
Yang Liu et al., Zhurong Reveals Recent Aqueous Activity at Utopia Planitia, Mars, scientific advances (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn8555

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Citation: Chinese rover finds evidence that water was present on Mars more recently than thought (2022 May 12) retrieved May 12, 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-05-chinese- rover-evidence-mars-thought. html

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