Why did the red planet lose its surroundings? A new study suggests that remoteness made Mars a hopeless case.
Science has known that Mars was covered in an ocean. NASA’s Curiosity and Perseverance spacecraft has sent back images of trails after water in the form of canals and river valleys, but we’re nowhere near explaining why they’re gone.
Theories abound, and in a new study, Washington University in St. Louis is now his. The researchers suggest that there is a limit to how small a rocky planet can be to retain enough water to be habitable and to maintain plate tectonics. Mars is very small. University writes in one press release.
To check for the presence of volatiles on different planetary bodies, the research group looked at stable isotopes of potassium. It’s a volatile element in its own right but can act as a trace element for more volatile things like water. They measured potassium isotopes on March 20 from meteorites that were allowed to represent the average planet’s composition.
– Martian meteorites range in age from hundreds of millions of years to four million years and thus have captured the evolution around volatiles on Mars. By measuring isotopes of moderately volatiles, such as potassium, we can make assumptions about the degree of volatiles loss in large-mass planets and compare it to other bodies in the Solar System, says Kun Wang, lead author of the study.
Scientists’ conclusion about Mars
The scientists’ conclusion was that Mars lost more potassium and other volatiles than Earth when the two planets formed, while smaller bodies like our dry moon and the asteroid 4-Vesta lost more than Mars. This supports the volume versus water-holding capacity theory, according to the research group.
The study concluded that only planets located in a relatively narrow range have the right size to contain a large amount of water to be habitable. Knowledge can be useful when searching for interesting exoplanets.
The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Banas.
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