June 4th, 2015 15:40 EST
Existence of Water on Mars Scientists Study Ongoing
The Mystery of the existence of water on Mars is as baffling to scientists as Bruce Jenner deciding to have a sex change was to the general public. " (Anselm, R.)
Sorry Bruce couldn`t resist....just kidding, Dude or Dude`ess whichever one...You`re still my Favorite Track Star of the 1976 Olympics...
But back to science -
Mars really has a personality of its own with its uniqueness that has had scientists chasing their tail trying to figure it out and piece together what this planet is really all about and what it may have been billions of years ago.
NASA and scientists have been studying Mars for a while now from the Mars Rover missions to the observatories all over the world Mars has been watched closer than a second base umpire watching the runner trying to steal second while the shortstop or second baseman makes the tag " is he out? Or, safe? You make the call.
A new six year water analysis of Mars suggests that the baron and dry Red planet has lost up to the equivalent of an oceans worth of water over the past four billion years. Scientists also question this data because there is still an ongoing debate as if Mars as ever warm enough to have had any water let alone an ocean of water exiting on it.
The question of if Mars ever had any water on it is more or less yes it did but did it have as much water as an ocean would hold? The research conducted which used the European Southern Observatory Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and was also supported by the WM Keck Observatory and NASA`s Infrared Telescope facility in Hawaii has shed light on this question with the findings of how much water has escaped from Mars` atmosphere throughout the billions of years of its existence.
The data collected from this has revealed that the amount of water lost could have filled an ocean in Mars` Northern lowlands to a depth of around one-mile and covering about nineteen-percent of the Red planet`s surface. That`s really a lot of water.
Geronimo Villanueva who is a planetary scientist at NASA`s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland commented on this by saying, "It implies that a substantial amount of water was available during the first billion years on Mars, raising the possibility that ancient Mars was habitable " (Villanueva, G.)
And that has really been the premise of why scientists have been so hot and heavy on studying Mars, to find out next habitable planet when we toast our current one with Global Warming and pollution like we have been for decades. So far from this data Mars is looking like the next eligible bachelor for us to relocate to.
Villanueva`s research team exploited the chemistry of water molecules to trace the history of water on Mars back through time. The water molecules make-up equal two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen and the hydrogen part of the water molecule can also come in another form known as a heavy isotope which is called deuterium that is made up of a neutron in its nucleus which is different than the regular single proton most normal hydrogen atoms have.
The reasoning behind this is that when water molecules contain deuterium and are referred to as heavy or partially heavy water, regular water can be stripped from the atmosphere of Mars and lost into space much more easily.
Villanueva went on to add more insight on this by saying, "Over a long time, the lighter form [of water] will escape preferentially relative to the heavy form"
Over billions of years, this preferential water loss has left Mars enriched in semi-heavy water compared to regular water by a factor of seven times greater than the ratio in Earth`s water. Extrapolating backward from the current ratio of "normal" hydrogen to deuterium, and incorporating factors such as collisions between water molecules and the predominant molecule in Mars` atmosphere, carbon dioxide, Villanueva`s team were able to calculate how much water Mars has lost. (Cooper, K., Astrology Magazine)
Scientists are still speculating that there is still water on Mars which is locked up in its polar caps. And they are saying if you took the amount of water on Mars today it would more than likely equal an ocean around sixty-nine feet deep.
From the earlier number of there was supposedly once an ocean one-mile deep on the surface of Mars and now today it only has around an ocean of sixty-nine feet deep left on it, we can see the significant water loss over time which equals more than all the water in the Earths Artic Ocean.
Robin Wordsworth who is a planetary scientist at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences who was not involved in the study commented, "Their [Villanueva et al.`s] results are entirely consistent with a predominantly cold, icy scenario for early Mars," said Wordsworth. "A global depth of 137 meters still implies a relatively dry planet, and doesn`t allow a deep northern ocean. The water could have mainly been in the form of ice rather than liquid." (Woodsworth, R.)
The results according to Wordsworth would indicate that Mars is not really a very habitable planet. If the comments and data by Wordsworth are correct then all the hype and excitement about Mars being our next planet we could relocate to because it is supposedly habitable would shoot down that theory.
Like anything though the study is ongoing and new data and information are constantly being revealed like an up and down roller coaster about Mars which changes current hypothesis about the Red planet so it is going to take a lot more time and study to get to the real answers about Mars
According to Bethany Ehlmann of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, the evidence for a northern ocean is scant. (Cooper, K.)
Bethany Ehlmann went on to further comment on this, "An ocean is an intriguing possibility but mineralogical evidence, such as carbonates or evaporates, which are typical of evidence for Earth`s large ocean basins, has not been found in the north, although researchers are still looking." (Ehlmann, B.)
So, the question if water ever existed on Mars is ongoing but Geronimo Villanueva still remains optimistic about this and went on to say, "It is difficult to assess the temperature of ancient Mars, and for how long water was in liquid form, from our results but our results do indicate that a substantial amount of water was available in the past."
Scientists and NASA continue researching every square inch on Mars for the evidence that water did really exist. NASA`s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) spacecraft is currently in orbit studying and investigating the atmosphere of Mars and will explore new ventures to try to find firm evidence of the existence of water.
Villanueva went on to comment, "We still don`t know how the molecules are escaping more sophisticated measurements are going to give us a much better idea of how and when the molecules escaped from Mars."
So, Mars continues to live up to its reputation of being the red headed step child of the planets in our solar system. It continues to reveal new and interesting information that blows away scientists and conflicting information that baffle scientists. In any case, without the existence of Mars astronomy and NASA would probably be as boring as sitting on a lonely park bench in any park USA on a Saturday afternoon.
Cooper, Keith, Astrology Magazine, Was Ancient Mars Warm? Planet`s History Takes Watery New Twist, (http://www.space.com/29375-ancient-mars-warm-water-debate.html) Retrieved 2015.
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