The new map of Mars has the potential to completely change perceptions of the planet ' s aquatic past, not only demonstrating the mineral deposits discovered over the past decade, but also allowing for the selection of sites for future plantings.
The research was carried out by Mars Express Observatory pour la Mineralogie, ĺEau, les Glaces et l'Activité, belonging to NASA.
If CRISM provides a spectral visualization of the surface of a planet with a high resolution of up to 15 m per pixel for small parts of the Martian surface, OMEGA provides measurements for large areas, which is convenient for mapping regions and the planet as a whole.
In particular, the map shows the position and locations of a significant accumulation of hydrated minerals in the past that have been chemically affected by water — the rocks of which have been turned into clay and salts. For example, on the Earth, with relatively small amounts of water on the rocks, volcanic stones are turned into seclusions and vermiculites, mainly by retaining the same chemical elements as the original minerals, with a large iron and magnesium content; when more water is used, soluble elements are mostly washed away, leaving aluminium-rich clay like caolin.
The discovery of a large number of similar minerals on Mars was very surprising. If 10 years ago scientists knew about about 1,000 such mineral exposures on Mars, which allowed them to be considered rather anomalies, the new map allowed for a complete review of the situation — at least hundreds of thousands of such exits.
This allows for a fresh look at the history of the planet. If it was previously assumed that the water was relatively small and existed on the surface of Mars for a short time, there is no doubt that water has played a crucial role in the geologic of the Red Planet.
According to researchers, Mars's history seems to be very simple — it was previously thought that only a few types of clay were formed during the "wet" period of the planet, and as it was dried up, salt deposits were formed. According to the new map, it is much more complicated — many of the Martian salts appeared later than clay, but there are already many known cases of salt detection, more ancient than the related clays.
In the next phase, it is planned not only to identify the locations of the hydrated minerals, but also the quantity of them, so that it can be assumed how these minerals were formed. In addition, scientists planning new missions to Mars can assess the quality of the landing sites. Many hydrated minerals still contain water molecules and, taking into account the data on the remaining soil and ice stones, can draw conclusions on the optimal locations where water is obtained during colonization. In addition, clay and salt are very common construction material on Earth, so it is logical to use them on Mars as well.
Finally, the discovery of such natural resources makes it possible to look more closely at the traces of life on the planet; in particular, the clay-rich region of Oxia Planum was chosen as a site for the European Space Agency ' s Rosalin Franklin Marsoir for further research.