On Mars, the Zhurong rover discovers more recent evidence of the presence of liquid water

Data collected by China’s Zhurong rover on the surface of Mars suggests that the Red Planet has been hosting liquid water more recently than previously thought.

Liquid water once flowed across the surface of Mars, but when exactly? Until now, scientists thought that the presence of liquid water on Mars dates back about 3 billion years, during the Hesperian period. In 2019, NASA’s Curiosity rover confirmed that the red planet was covered in water at some point in its history.

The Zhurong rover on Mars
The Zhurong rover on Mars – Credit: CNSA

New study based on data collected by China’s Zhurong rover shows evidence of liquid water only 700 million years ago. This means that there was still water on Mars during the Amazonian period, after the Hesperian.

Liquid water flowed over the surface of Mars 700 million years ago

China’s Zhurong rover landed on Mars last year. Its mission is to study the Martian soil, geology, topography, rocks, etc. During the first 60 days of its mission to Mars, the Zhurong rover collected crucial data on wind, water and erosion.

To determine the presence of liquid water on Mars 700 million years ago, researcher Yang Liu and his team from the National Space Science Center (NSSC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) analyzed data from three scientific instruments. These are the Telescopic Micro Imaging Camera, the Short Wave Infrared Spectrometer and the Laser Induced Breakdown Spectrometer.

Minerals present on the surface of Mars have indicated the presence of a substantial amount of liquid water about 700 million years ago. The Amazon would therefore not have been a dry period as we thought until now. Planetary scientist Eva Scheller from the California Institute of Technology said: this is a very interesting result. We have very little recorded evidence of ‘young’ liquid water systems on Mars. And for the ones we had, they were usually in the form of salt minerals “. Indeed, Zhurong’s instruments have detected water molecules locked in rocks. Now, scientists are trying to find out if the presence of water in these rocks is a common phenomenon.

Source : Space.com

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