Mon. Oct 18th, 2021

The Martian South Pole ice cap was captured in 2000 by a Mars Orbiter camera.

About the recent hubbub Ofbsurface Lake has been detected On Mars There is a new twist, As New research argues That underground structure is not a lake at all. Researchers behind the study say That, Instead of liquid water, Mars has a south pole smectites, A class of soil that has been misinterpreted in the data.

The waters of Mars are of interest to planetary scientists and astronomersUse of its importance in life. The planet held water like a dry lake in its ancient historyThe bed is currently being explored By Perseverance Rover, But many have expressed hope that liquid water Still exists In significant amounts On the red planet. There was some research Marked what was seen to be sSurface lake, bNow A Paper Published The Geophysical Research Letter this month argues for the surrounding conditions South The pole is not exactly for liquid water And smectites are a possible culprit for that signal in anger DAta.

“I don’t really believe the lake concept holds water, so an alternative was needed … Mars has plenty of smectite and spectroscopy has been extensively studied, but the radar community has largely ignored them. I hope we consider them more fully in the future.” And reconsider some of our previous work in light of these new results. “

A sheet of ice at the south pole of Mars, pictured by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, 186 miles above Mars.

Mars on the European Space Agency’s Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionosphere Sounding (Marsis) Mars Express Spacecraft radar sounding equipment has detected very bright regions pointing to a subsurface material with greater electrical conductivity than Martian rock or ice, both of which are abundant. The south pole of the planet. Some researchers believed it was evidence of water beneath the frozen surface; Others felt that the conditions were not right.

New research is underway Another paper Published in a geophysical research letter earlier this month, it identified a larger number of bright spots on the surface than previously found. This finding indicates that the South Pole may be rusty with surface lakes; As a NASA study co-author and research scientist, Jeffrey Plot put it in one NASA press release At that time, “either liquid water beneath the south pole of Mars is normal or these signals indicate something else.” The recent paper suggests the latter.

Aditya Khulla, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University and another author of the paper, said in an email that radar-bright spots “could actually be soil or similar material regions that produce previously bright reflections that point to liquids. Water matter … works by Smith et al. . (2021) provides experimental and theoretical frameworks in support of this scenario.

The radar ice cap of Mars on the radar shows several bright spots.

As discussed in the new paper, there were two problems with the idea that the surface structure could be a lake of liquid water. The first problem was salt: It reduces the melting point of water, but Mars will need much more salt than expected at the South Pole to help the ice melt. The second problem was heat. Mars is very cold; Temperature average -81 ° Fahrenheit, just below the freezing point of water.

A Paper of 2019 A different group thinks that local thermal inconsistencies will be necessary to heat Martian ice sufficiently to create water in the area. If water is actually below the pole, then magnetism is the most probable answer. Michael Surrey, a planetary scientist at Purdue University who wrote the paper and has nothing to do with the new one, said in an email that “one thing to look forward to in the future is that their lab tests will be done at cool temperatures. They tested at 230K. [-46°F], But as the authors admit, this temperature is probably too warm for the lower part [south pole’s layered] Ice. “

“In the end, I don’t think the liquid water hypothesis has been completely ruled out,”‘But this author and others in the community have nicely shown that there are potential alternative explanations that need to be taken very seriously,’ Sori added.

The proof will be in the pudding (bright areas around the South Pole), but unfortunately we don’t have a device that can dive into them. Right now the Mars Express Orbiter is collecting data Almost from above 20 years, but we More direct testing may be needed to confirm what it is Underground chemistry Going.

“I would never drop liquid on the surface of Mars, but the Marsis instrument was sent for hydraulic search and it was the best candidate in 18 years,” Smith said. “Everyone would love to find liquid water, but unfortunately, I don’t think we can find any with the help of current instruments.”

More: If there was water on Mars, where did it go?

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