Although today a reddish coloured desert, Mars abounds in the water 1 billion years ago

About a billion years back, Mars was not just red, but blue. The data attained with Marsis, the radar on the Mars Express space probe, shows that the planet once was covered with water. It continues to be a mystery where water has disappeared and why the planet is dry today.

Mars is a planet similar to Earth, but it is smaller than it and with a very rare atmosphere. The Red Planet seems lifeless - at least until now no traces of it have been found to end up being confirmed and acknowledged by the entire scientific community. But was there existence on this planet in the past? Hard to say. An important step would be the living of water - which is the foundation of lifestyle on Earth.

A study conducted last year by a group of Italian researchers using data from the Marsis radar demonstrates under the ice cap at the south pole of Mars there would be a lake of liquid drinking water.

Mars is a radar located on the Mars Express probe orbiting Mars. The radar sends a series of medium regularity pulses (1.5-5.5 MHz) to the planet and is built to operate up to an altitude of 1,200 km. Some of the impulses are reflected by the top, and another part penetrates into the basement and can be reflected by the elements contained therein. The probe gets the impulses reflected from the basement, and the analysis can determine the composition of the subsoil. Marsis's antenna is certainly linear with a length of 40 meters, and the generated impulses penetrate in to the surface at a depth of up to a few kilometers.

Data obtained with Marsis has been analyzed by geologists at the University of Southern California, who concluded that underground layers of water would have existed previously, not only the southern pole. The water contained in these layers penetrated the surface from high depths, through rock fractures, from depths of about 750 meters, and burst like rivers on the surface of the planet. To confirm this, the group of researchers conducted studies in the Sahara and Saudi Arabia where they searched for and mapped groundwater sources. The consequence of this research will be published in a content in the journal Character Geology.

A second study of Marsis data implies that water would have existed on Mars in very large quantities. This result, obtained by experts at Chicago University and NASA, will be published in Scince Aedvances. On Mars, therefore, there were rivers with a quantity of double drinking water (per surface unit) than the rivers on Earth. The rivers on Mars had been turbulent and temporary. Today, only the footprints of these rivers remain, such as those explored by the NASA Curiosity rover in the Gaia crater in 2011 and 2012. Researchers claim that during the past Mars could have had a heavy rainfall regime, with a whole lot of snow, but it quickly melted, generating rivers in turn, they flowed quickly to the valleys on the planet. When did all this happen? It seems that the rivers were extremely widespread on earth in a period that today extends about 3.6 billion years to a billion years ago.

Where did the Martian water disappear? For now we have no answer to this question. Current hypotheses talk about certain astronomical and geological phenomena, in which it would have played an important role in the fact that the planet does not have an atmosphere or magnetic field today.

Mars, once a blue world, is today a red desert, which is not flowing for more than a billion years. The just blue planet in the solar system remains our plant, of which we will have to take great care not to risk one day as Mars: a lifeless desert.

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