China's Zhurong Marsoat and its accompanying Tianwen-1 orbiter have recently collected data that support the hypothesis that liquid water was once present on the Martian surface. Hydrated minerals found in the planet's solid cortex are new evidence of the existence of a significant amount of liquid water during the last geological period on Mars.
The Chinese Marsoon landed on Mars in May 2021 in the Ravnina Utopia region after separating it from the Tianwen-1 orbital spacecraft, carrying six scientific instruments for various analyses. . Although there is no liquid water on the surface of Mars today, scientists around the world have long assumed that water was flowing on Mars, and many missions such as Tianwen-1 have been sent to seek evidence to support this hypothesis.
Some recent data show that water could have been stored on the surface much longer than the experts had previously thought. Last year, NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter found evidence of a much lower flow of water, possibly two or 2.5 billion years ago.
Particularly active water cycle
According to the National Space Administration of China, as at 15 September, the Tianwen-1 probe had been in orbit for more than 780 days, while the Zhurong Marsoft had crossed a total of 1,921 metres and accumulated 1,480 gigabytes of raw scientific data.
Infrared spectral data from the surface composition detector revealed hydrated sulfate and silicon earth materials at the top of the landing site, dated from the Amazonian period.
Detection of this layer of solid bark
It's not surprising, but it happened much earlier than scientists thought! ' said Alberto Fayren, an astrobiologist at the Astrobiology Center in Madrid, who was not involved in the study.
Possible Martian life in the last billion years
These data add to the growing evidence that the Red Planet has gone through several cycles of wet and warm, dry and cold periods rather than one sustained and dramatic climate change. ", said Ian Liu, a planetary scientist, a member of the Tianwen-1 project team at the National Space Science Centre of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and the first author of an article reporting the discovery.
Spectric data showed absorption at wave lengths between 1.5 and 2.2 micrometers, typical of minerals such as olivin, pyroxen and field spa, which were modified when they incorporated water into their chemical structures. ", said Jan Liu to the Global Times.
The discovery of hydrated minerals not only provides essential information on the geological and aquatic history of the region and the climatic evolution of Mars, but also suggests that these hydrated minerals may contain significant water reserves, which may prove very useful for future human researchers who may visit Mars one day.
At present, the Tianwen-1 orbiter is still working on remote research, and the Chinese team hopes that it will also provide more data that will shed light on the history of water in this region of Mars. But in the northern hemisphere of Mars, the winter season is now, so the Zhurong Marsod is now in sleep and will only be awakened at the end of the year, when the weather will become more soft.