Significant Amounts of Water Found in Mars’ Valles Marineris, Hidden in the Ground

Humans have long suspected our neighboring planet, Mars, was not unlike Earth a long time ago, and it may have harbored both liquid water, and some kind of life. So far, however, we weren’t able to prove for a fact water in its liquid form or life still exist there.
Mars' Valles Marineris seen from space 6 photos
Photo: NASA/Mars Trek
Mars' Valles Marineris seen from spaceMars' Valles Marineris seen from spaceMars' Valles Marineris seen from spaceMars' Valles Marineris seen from spaceMars' Valles Marineris seen from space
That might have changed this week, after the European Space Agency (ESA) announced it has discovered “significant amounts of water at the heart of Mars’ dramatic canyon system, Valles Marineris.”

Valles Marineris is considered one of the largest canyons in the solar system. It runs across the planet’s surface like a huge scar for 4,000 km (2,500 miles), it’s 200 km (120 miles) wide and in places 7 km (4.3 miles) deep.

At the time of writing, we Earthlings have no piece of hardware inside the canyon, but there are plenty of pieces of technology up in orbit, looking down at the place. One of them, the ESA-Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, is responsible for this discovery.

According to ESA, water is not running freely across the canyon floor, but is rather hidden beneath the surface. The Orbiter packs hardware that is capable of mapping hydrogen in the uppermost meter of the Martian surface. And since the presence of hydrogen is a sign of water, hence the excitement in the ESA announcement.

Now, the agency didn’t go into specifics as to at least give us an idea of what exactly “significant amounts” means, but it does say “assuming the hydrogen we see is bound into water molecules, as much as 40% of the near-surface material in this region appears to be water.” Most of it should be either in the form of ice or bound to other minerals in the soil.

The area the Orbiter looked at is the size of Netherlands, and is located in the Candor Chaos region of the canyon.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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