The discovery of gullies on Mars that held water not long ago has scientists believing water could soon flow again on the red planet.
With its long list of similarities to Earth, Mars has been one of NASA’s favorite planets to study over the last several decades and now, researchers believe that water may be making its way back onto the Red Planet. According to ScienceAlert, the ravines that have recently been spotted on Mars could be the product of melting glaciers much like the gullies we’ve seen in Antarctica. But, with their positioning at a more elevated location, scientists have been stumped as to how these gullies got there.
At first, it was presumed that they had been forming from carbon dioxide ice but a brand new hypothesis is pointing toward real liquid water being in charge of the gullies’ creation. What’s even more wild is that there’s a chance that Mars may have had water as recently as 630,000 years ago.
Sure, on the page, that looks like a really long time ago but when you look at the bigger picture, it’s not much time at all!
So, how would Mars end up with water again? Essentially the latest breakthrough shows us that when the planet tilts to a 35-degree angle, the temperature changes, allowing the surface to heat to a level just above its freezing point – if only for a brief moment. Should this happen, the temperature would be just enough to allow some of the snow and ice to melt, causing water to run free.
Of course, this change doesn’t just come overnight with the de-freezing axis tilting process happening over hundreds of thousands of years. But, when that time comes, researchers believe that there’s a very solid chance for Mars to see water once again.
According to Jim Head, a planetary scientist from Brown University, the research that not only his team but others have come up with points to the planet having a steady water flow during its beginning days. With this in mind, as the axis continues to move, the idea of it getting back to that exact point isn’t so far-fetched – even if it was 3 billion years ago.
This newest bit of information about Mars possibly flowing with water again sometime in the future is just the latest news to come from the Red Planet. Recently, NASA announced that they’ve been able to create oxygen at lightning speed thanks to the rover known as Perseverance.
The machine’s Mars Oxygen In Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) has drummed up small bits of oxygen in the past, but during its latest foray onto the planet’s floor, it managed to bring in 12 grams of oxygen in a little under an hour – a very impressive and meaningful step forward for the space agency.
Between their studies on Mars – whether it be in the form of oxygen or water – and their advancements of better-helping astronauts recycle water while on a mission, NASA is truly pushing the pendulum forward when it comes to space exploration.
We as a society have always been obsessed with someday taking trips to the Moon and to other planets like Mars, so discovering that water may again appear is a momentous find for the future of our research.