Sunday, 24 June 2012

Mars’ interior might have as much as – or more – water than Earth

Mars had ice at its poles.We knew that. And also there are features on Red Planet, that look like they might have been carved by running water, plus microscopic evidence for the presence of liquid water on Mars in the past. But, there is no liquid water on Red planet’s surface today.It is generally, thought of as a desert world. Meanwhile, Earth is the only planet that we know, have a vast reservoirs of water in its interior,until now. But now that has changed. Researchers analyzed the water content of two Martian meteorites originating from inside the planet say that – in some parts of Mars’ mantle – the amount of water is vastly greater than previous estimates. In fact, they say, Mars’ interior water is similar in quantity to that found inside Earth.

The data suggest yet another reason to think that Mars might once have sustained life.

Former Carnegie postdoctoral scientist Francis McCubbin, now at the University of New Mexico, led this research. The analysis was performed by Carnegie Institution investigator Erik Hauri and team.

Researchers analyzed what are called shergottite meteorites, thought to have been ejected from Mars approximately 2.5 million years ago. Erik explained why the researchers concluded that Mars’ interior has plentiful water:

"We analyzed two meteorites that had very different processing histories. One had undergone considerable mixing with other elements during its formation, while the other had not. We analyzed the water content of the mineral apatite and found there was little difference between the two even though the chemistry of trace elements was markedly different. The results suggest that water was incorporated during the formation of Mars and that the planet was able to store water in its interior during the planet’s differentiation."

Based on the mineral’s water content, the researchers estimated that the Martian mantle source from which the rocks were derived contained between 70 and 300 parts per million water. For comparison, the upper mantle on Earth contains approximately 50 to 300 parts per million water.