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Mars Loses Its Water Even Faster Than Anyone Thought

Water might escape Mars more effectively than previously thought, potentially helping to explain how the Red Planet lost its seas, lakes and rivers, a new study finds.

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Although Mars is now cold and dry, winding river valleys and dry lake beds suggest that water covered much of the Red Planet billions of years ago. What remains of the water on Mars is mostly locked frozen in the Red Planet's polar ice caps, which possess less than 10% of the water that once flowed on the Martian surface, prior work has suggested.

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Shallow pits are seen in the bright residual cap of dry ice, which is a solid form of carbon dioxide. The deeper, circular formation in the top right could be an impact crater or a collapse pit (see left)

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In the Line of Fire: A Memoir

Previous research has also indicated that Martian water mostly escaped into space. Ultraviolet radiation from the sun breaks apart water in Mars' upper atmosphere to form hydrogen and oxygen, and much of this hydrogen then floats off into space, given its extraordinarily light nature and Mars' middling gravity (which is just 40% as strong as Earth's).




Recent findings suggested that large amounts of water might regularly make rapid intrusions into Mars' upper atmosphere. To shed light on these events, scientists analyzed data from the Mars-circling Trace Gas Orbiter, which is part of the European-Russian ExoMars program. The scientists focused on the way water was distributed up and down the Martian atmosphere by altitude in 2018 and 2019

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Left. After making a successful landing on Mars on Nov. 26, 2018, NASA's InSight robot sent back a "selfie," taken from its Instrument Deployment Camera (IDC).

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Posted on  January 11, 2020

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