It’s significant because water is essential for life on planets like Earth and gives an indication why the red planet has no liquid water on its surface today. About half the size of Earth, Mars is the second smallest planet in the solar system, sitting at the very outer edge of the zone where liquid water could flow.
Mars once had water flowing over the surface, but it disappeared billions of years ago. There are lots of theories, including that most of Mars’ water escaped into space as its atmosphere was stripped away by radiation from the Sun.
Nasa’s Perseverance Rover is currently exploring the surface of Mars and recovering rock samples for scientists back on Earth The author of the new study, Dr Kun Wang – from the Washington University in St Louis – has been studying the chemical makeup of Mars meteorites that have fallen to Earth.
Find out more about the red planet here: Reuters Scientists have been trying to work out why for decades.
Mars lost lots of its “volatile elements” – or gases – during its formation, according to Dr Wang. These rocks – which ranged from millions to billions of years old – reveal that Mars didn’t have the correct chemistry in its structure to hold on to water long-term.
It could be down to size, he said, with smaller planets less able to hold these gases and resultant water. Without these gases – which include nitrogen and carbon dioxide among others – it was difficult to hold onto water. What’s it like on Mars?It’s COLD – The average temperature on Mars is -63 degrees Celsius. Brrr!Hard to breathe – The atmosphere on Mars contains more than 95% carbon dioxide and much less than 1% oxygen. People would not be able to breathe the air on Mars.It has much higher levels of radiation than on Earth.
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