Chinese rover finds water clues on Mars

Hydrous minerals discovered by China’s robotic rover on Mars in a vast basin believed to be the site of an ancient ocean suggest water has been present on the planet’s surface for longer than previously thought, according to researchers. Chinese scientists.

According to an analysis of data returned by the Zhurong rover, signs of water have been detected in mineral samples dating to just 700 million years ago, scientists said in a paper published Wednesday in the journal Science. Advances.

Mars is thought to have been wet until about 3 billion years ago when the planet’s second geological age, known as the Hesperian Epoch, ended. In the current Amazon period, there is no surface water.

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The soil containing the minerals Zhurong sampled had a hard crust that could have been formed by rising groundwater or melting ice that had since evaporated, the Chinese scientists wrote.

The Chinese rover has been exploring the vast plain of Utopia Planitia since landing on the planet in May last year. Zhurong traveled about 2 kilometers from his landing site to collect field data.

In recent years, data from an orbital probe operated by the European Space Agency had discovered water under the ice of the planet’s south pole.

Almost all of Mars’ water is locked up in its polar ice caps, with very small traces in the planet’s thin atmosphere.

The location of groundwater is essential in determining the life potential of the planet, as well as providing a permanent resource for any human exploration.

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