A study published last year in the Science magazine shows that liquid water is under the southern polar ice cap on Mars. Now, a new study in the journal AGU Geophysical Research Letters says there must be an underground heat source for liquid water under the polar ice cap.
The new study does not take into account whether there is liquid water. Instead, the authors suggest that recent magmatic activity – the formation of a magma chamber over the last few hundred thousand years – must have occurred beneath the surface of Mars so that it has enough heat to produce liquid water under a kilometer and a half. thick ice cap. On the other hand, the authors of the study argue that if there was no recent magmatic activity beneath the surface of Mars, then liquid water under the ice cap is unlikely.
"Different people can go differently with this, and we're really interested in seeing the community react to that," said Michael Sorry, a collaborator of the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona, and a co-authored the new book.
The potential presence of recent underground magmatic activity on Mars adds to the idea that Mars is an active planet, geologically speaking. This fact could give scientists a better understanding of how the planets evolve over time
The new study aims to continue the debate about the possibility of Mars's liquid water. The presence of liquid water on the Red Planet is important for the potential finding of life outside the Earth and can serve as a resource for future human exploration of our neighboring planet.
"We think that if there is life, it is likely to be protected in the underground by radiation," said Ali Brahamson, a research fellow at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona and a co-author of the new paper. "If magmatic processes still exist today, they may be more common in the recent past and could provide a broader base melt. This could provide a more favorable environment for liquid water and thus, perhaps, life. " Mars has two giant icy roofs in its poles, both a few kilometers thick. On Earth it is customary for liquid water to be present under thick ice sheets, as the warmth of the planet causes the melting of the ice when it meets the earth's crust.
In a report published last year in Science, scientists say they have found a similar phenomenon on Mars. They argue that radar observations have found evidence of liquid water at the base of the southern polar cap on Mars. However, the study of Science is not devoted to how water liquids could be obtained there.
Mars is much cooler than Earth, so it's not clear what kind of environment will be needed to melt the ice at the base of the ice cap. Although previous research has examined whether liquid water can exist at the base of Mars ice caps, nobody has yet looked at the specific place where science research claims to have found water.
"We thought there was plenty of room to find out if it was real, what kind of environment should melt the ice first, what temperatures would you need, what kind of geological process would you need? Because under normal conditions, it must be too cold, "says Sory. The authors of the new study first assume that the detection of liquid water under the icy hat is correct and then worked to find out what parameters are necessary for the existence of the water.
The model showed that only salt would not raise the temperature high enough to melt the ice. Instead, the authors propose to have extra heat coming from the inside of Mars.
Publication: Michael M. Sorry, et al., "Water on Mars, with Salt Grain: Local thermal anomalies are needed for a bloody melting of Ice on the South Pole today," Geophysical Research, 2019; two: 10.1029 / 2018GL080985