A Chinese sonar makes a surprising discovery of water from the Mars landing site

Zhurong landed on a large plateau in the northern hemisphere of Mars called Utopia Planitia on May 15, 2021, where NASA’s Viking 2 spacecraft landed in 1976.

The main task of the vehicle, which lasted three months, was to look for signs of ancient life. I study minerals, the environment, and the distribution of water and ice on a plateau that is part of the largest area of ​​influence in the northern lowlands of Mars. The spacecraft will continue to investigate its landing location and send the data back to Tianwen-1 orbiting the planet.

Data from Rover’s preliminary basin survey show that there was water in the Utopia Planitia basin at a time when many scientists believed Mars was dry and cold.

a changing planet

Mars was hot and humid billions of years ago, but something changed and made the planet as dry, frozen desert as it is today. The red planet came into this period during the so-called Amazon era, which began about 3 billion years ago and continues to this day.

“The most important and new thing is that we found moist minerals at a landing site in the young Amazon terrain, and these wet minerals are (indicators) of water activity, such as (groundwater) activity,” said the lead author of the study. , Yang Yang. . Liu, a researcher at the State Key Laboratory of Space Weather of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Academy’s Center of Excellence in Comparative Planetary Science.

The researchers analyzed the Zhurong ATV’s data on the sediments and minerals in the basin, as well as analyzes performed by various Rover instruments in its surroundings. They find hydrated silica and sulfate similar to the wet minerals found Through other missions that explore different areas of the Red Planet.

The Zhurong ATV looks at its landing pad while offering a view of the landing site.

The brightly colored stones contained minerals, the colors of which helped to show their composition. The researchers concluded that these rocks formed a layer of hard shell at the landing site. This type of deposition can form when a large amount of water rising from either groundwater or underground melting transforms the soil into a hard crust as the water evaporates.

& # 39;  large amounts of water & # 39;  Found on Mars & # 39;  Huge version of the Grand Canyon

The discovery of this layer of hard shell, which is thicker than the hard shell likely to be formed by atmospheric water vapor found at other Martian landings, shows that Utopia Planitia had a more active water cycle tens of millions of years ago. than the researchers expected. .

This adds to the growing evidence revealed on Mars flights that the Red Planet has gone through wet, hot, dry and cold cycles instead of triggering permanent and dramatic climate change. Yang said these climatic tides could be due to active volcanoes or the effects of other celestial bodies.

feeding the farm

China just became the second country to drive an ATV on Mars

This discovery came as a surprise to researchers, as previous orbital observations did not reveal signs of wet minerals at the landing site. That’s why the search for Rover is important, Yang said.

Utopia Planitia has been of interest to scientists because some speculate that the area was once an ocean.

“So finding wet metals (yours) Important indicators of the geological and hydrological history of the region and the evolution of the climate of Mars.

Yang said he hopes the ATV will be able to analyze the crater layers of the plateau to get more information about the area’s water history.

This perspective shows the neglected thermal protection of the landing craft at the bottom of the landing site.

The results also suggest that there may be “large reservoirs” of wet minerals or even ice in the ground that could be used by future human scientists on manned Mars flights.

“One of the most important resources for human travelers is water,” Yang said. “Wet minerals containing skeletal water and ground ice could be used as an important water resource on Mars.”

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