The Chinese rover Zhurong has found evidence of water on Mars for much longer than previously thought. Chinese scientists are of the opinion that it is possible that there is still groundwater on the Red Planet.
The main mission of the vehicle, which lasted three months, was to search for signs of ancient life. He did research on minerals, the environment, and the distribution of water and ice. The rover explored its landing site and sent the information back to the orbiter, Tianwen-1, which orbits the planet.
Data from the rover’s initial exploration indicates that the Utopia Planetia basin held water at a time when many scientists believed Mars was dry and cold. Mars was warm and humid billions of years ago, but something changed and caused the planet to turn into the barren, frozen desert it is today. The Red Planet got this type of landscape about 3 billion years ago.
“The most important and new thing is that we found wet minerals at the landing site. These minerals are indicative of aquatic activities,” said lead author of the study Yang Liu.
This discovery came as a surprise to the researchers, because previous observations of orbiters had not revealed any signs of wet minerals at the landing site. “That’s why rover exploration was so important,” Yang said.
The findings also suggest that there could be “significant reserves” of water in hydrated minerals or even ground ice, which future human explorers could use on manned missions to Mars.
“One of the most important resources for human explorers is water,” Yang said. “Hydrominerals, which contain skeletal water, and Earth ice could be used as the main source of water on Mars.”
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