Now a desolate red desert, a new study has claimed that Mars was once actually mostly blue.
While researchers have long agreed that our red neighbor once held water, just how much water it had was a matter of debate.
Now a new study has revealed that 4.5 billion years ago Mars was covered in oceans 984 feet (300 meters) deep.
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen hope these findings could bring humanity one step closer to answering a vital question: Did Mars ever have life?
New study claims Mars was covered by oceans 984 feet deep 4.5 billion years ago
A meteoroid impact crater created on December 24, 2021 in the Amazonis Planitia region of Mars
Evidence that Mars once contained water
Spirit and Opportunity, NASA’s twin rovers, found evidence of water trapped in rock in 2007, when one of Spirit’s wheels broke and waterlogged a piece of stone.
Analysis of the silica-rich layer found in the scratch suggests that it formed in the presence of liquid water.
In 2008, the Phoenix lander was collecting geological samples, and they disappeared after a few days.
Scientists thought they were chunks of ice. This assessment was confirmed when the lander subsequently detected water vapor in a sample.
In 2012, Curiosity meandered over an ancient Martian seafloor when it examined a number of rocks that were exposed to liquid water billions of years ago.
The study estimates that the oceans covered the entire planet and could have ranged from 984 feet (300 meters) to 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) in depth.
Given that the planet is about half the size of Earth, Professor Martin Bizzarro of the Center for Star and Planet Formation says that in comparison there is actually very little water on our planet.
This water was brought to Mars by ice-filled asteroids, according to Professor Bizzarro.
In addition to water, icy asteroids also brought biologically relevant molecules such as amino acids to Mars.
Amino acids are used when DNA and RNA form bases that contain everything a cell needs.
Professor Bizzarro explained: ‘It happened in the first 100 million years of Mars.
“After this period, something catastrophic happened to potential life on Earth.
“There is believed to have been a gigantic collision between Earth and another planet the size of Mars.
“It was an energetic collision that formed the Earth-Moon system and, at the same time, wiped out all potential life on Earth.”
To reach these conclusions, the researchers studied a billion-year-old meteorite.
Speaking to MailOnline, Prof Bizzarro explained that the meteorite formed 4.5 billion years ago and is now ‘a fragment of Mars’ original crust’.
“So it records the history of the bombardments of the planet,” he explained.
Billions of years ago, Mars was hit by asteroids filled with ice and critical organic matter
Unlike Earth, Mars does not have tectonic plates deep below its surface, as hot molten rock has long cooled to form a rocky mantle.
As a result, the researchers note that the crust remains static, keeping the planet’s surface unchanged.
This allows them to study Mars’ past in a way that would be impossible to do on Earth.
Professor Bizzarro added: ‘Plate tectonics on Earth has erased all evidence of what happened during the first 500 million years of our planet’s history.
“Plates are constantly moving and being recycled and destroyed inside our planet.
“In contrast, Mars has no such plate tectonics that the planet’s surface retains a record of the planet’s earliest history.”
The new study comes shortly after experts claimed ancient microbes could survive for hundreds of millions of years below the surface of Mars in “suspended animation”.
Researchers say a bacterium called Deinococcus radiodurans could survive 280 million years on Mars – nearly 300 times longer than previously thought – if buried 32 feet below the Red Planet’s surface.
D. radiodurans is also known as “Conan the Bacteria” and “Superhero of the Bacterial World” due to its tenacity, which has even earned it the title of “World’s Hardest Known Bacteria” in the Guinness Book of Records.
Like a muscular movie hero, he resists attack from acid baths, high and low temperatures, and even doses of radiation.
Although Conan the bacterium probably does not exist on Mars, researchers believe that an equivalent microorganism could exist on the Red Planet for a similar period.
NASA’S MARS CURIOSITY ROVER LAUNCHED IN 2011 AND ENHANCED OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RED PLANET
The Mars Curiosity rover was initially launched from Cape Canaveral, a United States Air Force station in Florida, on November 26, 2011.
After embarking on a 350 million mile (560 million km) journey, the £1.8 billion ($2.5 billion) research vehicle landed just 1.5 miles (2.4 km ) of the intended landing point.
After a successful landing on August 5, 2012, the rover traveled approximately 11 miles (18 km).
It was launched on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft and the rover made up 23% of the total mission mass.
With 80 kg (180 lb) of scientific instruments on board, the rover weighs a total of 899 kg (1,982 lb) and is powered by a plutonium fuel source.
The rover is 2.9 meters (9.5 feet) long by 2.7 meters (8.9 feet) wide by 2.2 meters (7.2 feet) high.
The Mars Curiosity Rover was originally intended to be a two-year mission to gather information to help answer whether the planet could support life, has liquid water, study the climate and geology of Mars and has since been active for more than 2,000 days
The rover was originally intended to be a two-year mission to gather information to help determine if the planet could support life, has liquid water, study Mars’ climate and geology.
Due to its success, the mission was extended indefinitely and has now been active for over 3,500 days.
The rover carries several scientific instruments, including the mastcam, which consists of two cameras and can take high-resolution images and real-color videos.
During the car-sized robot’s journey so far, it has come across an ancient streambed with liquid water flowing through it, shortly after also discovering that there is Billions of years ago, a nearby area known as Yellowknife Bay was part of a lake that may have supported microbial life.
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