Challenging previous notions that water could only be solid or gaseous on Mars, this discovery was made by analyzing the morphological features and mineral compositions of the sand dunes at the spacecraft’s landing site.
The research, published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Science Advances, revealed that until about 400,000 years ago, there was snow or frost on Mars.
According to the findings, between 1.4 million and 400,000 years ago, salts in the sand dunes caused the snow to melt at low temperatures. As a result, salty liquid water appeared on the planet’s surface.
Water in liquid form may be available in the near future
Findings from Zhurong again last year gave rise to speculation that liquid water may have been present on the planet as early as 700 million years ago.
New evidence has pushed that date even further. Because the findings mean that there was liquid water on Mars when the first humans began to roam in Europe.
Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Xiaoguang Qin and colleagues analyzed certain mineral deposits in the dunes. The study revealed substances such as sulfates, silica, iron oxide and chlorides.
The research team concluded that snowmelt is the most likely model for the formation of cracks and crusts in dunes with these minerals.
Accordingly, when temperatures dropped, salt made the snow melt. The resulting brine then evaporated and the salts precipitated.
This process allowed the particles from Zhurong’s sample to come together to form a shell. Subsequently, the continuous drying or freezing process created cracks in the bark.
Zhurong, named after the god of fire and war in Chinese mythology, landed on Mars’ Utopia Planitia plain on May 15, 2021.
The spacecraft, scheduled for a three-month mission, studied the planet’s surface soil and atmosphere.
The vehicle, which has recently hibernated, is unable to move due to dust covering the solar panels.