The final of Mars’ liquid waters flowed about 2 billion years in the past

Greyscale image of a cratered plant surface.

Enlarge / The string of interrupted shiny patches transferring from prime left to decrease proper is a channel stuffed with salt deposits. (credit score: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

By now, there’s loads of proof that Mars had a watery previous, and extra information is coming in on a regular basis. However that proof would not essentially give us an entire image of Mars’ previous. Was the pink planet coated in watery oceans, or was a lot of the water trapped as ice, with erratic seasonal melting?

This week, two researchers at Caltech—Ellen Leask and Bethany Ehlmann—helped present a clearer image of Mars’ previous by determining the possible habits of the final liquid water on Mars and figuring out when it stopped flowing. Their secret was tracing salt deposits on the Martian floor.

Comply with the salt

There are a lot of completely different salts we have detected on the Martian floor, however the ones of curiosity listed below are chlorides (which in all probability embrace the sodium chloride of desk salt). These are particularly informative as a result of they’re the salts most readily soluble in water. So if there’s any water round, these chloride salts could be dissolved in it. Any deposits of those salts at the moment current on the floor of Mars, then, have been put there because the final water in that area of the planet dried out.

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