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[Slashdot] - Mars May Hide Oceans of Water Beneath Its Crust, Study Finds


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Oceans' worth of water may remain buried in the crust of Mars, and not lost to space as previously long thought, a new study finds. Space.com reports: Data from NASA's MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) mission and the European Space Agency's Mars Express orbiter revealed that at the rate water disappears from the Red Planet's atmosphere, Mars would have lost a global ocean of water only about 10 to 82 feet (3 to 25 m) deep over the course of 4.5 billion years. Now scientists find that much of the water Mars once had may remain hidden in the crust of the Red Planet, locked away in the crystal structures of rocks beneath the Martian surface. They detailed their findings online March 16 in the journal Science and at the Lunar Planetary Science Conference. In the new study, the scientists found chemical reactions may have led between 30% to 99% of the water that Mars initially had to get locked into minerals and buried in the planet's crust. Any remaining water was then lost to space, explaining the hydrogen-to-deuterium ratios seen on Mars. All in all, the researchers suggested Mars lost 40% to 95% of its water during its Noachian period about 4.1 billion to 3.7 billion years ago. Their model suggested the amount of water on the Red Planet reached its current levels by about 3 billion years ago.

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