Water on Earth and water traces on Mars showed same origin of water on two planets; Research

Artist's rendition of ancient water on Mars (Credit: NASA)

Researchers have found that the water on our Earth and the water that once flowed through the surface of Mars came from the same source i.e. meteorites.

This research has been published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters.

Scientists based their thinking on the analysis of the two rare rocks that came from Mars to Earth as meteorites, which showed that the same planetary building blocks were responsible for coming water on Earth and Mars. It showed that the two planets showed same formation paths but different evolutionary paths.

This finding opposes the idea that comets were responsible for the water spread. Instead, chondritic meteorites were responsible for water spread. Those meteorites contain small, granular minerals.

‘These meteorites contain trapped basaltic liquids, not unlike the basalts that erupt on Hawaii,” John Jones, an experimental petrologist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, said in a statement. “They are pristine samples that have sampled various Martian volatile element environments.”

Interestingly, scientists have found that the two Martian rocks represent two very different sources of ancient water from Mars. One came from mantle, which is a middle layer of Mars, containing traces of water in the deep interior of the planet that is found to be dried. The other came with material enriched with the shallow Martian crust and atmosphere. This other rock showed 10 times more water traces showing that Mars was very much wet at some time in the past.

“There are competing theories that account for the diverse compositions of Martian meteorites,” Tomohiro Usui, a former postdoctoral researcher at NASA’s Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, said. “Until this study there was no direct evidence that primitive Martian lavas contained material from the surface of Mars.”

Reference:

Tomohiro Usui, Conel M.O’D. Alexander, Jianhua Wang, Justin I. Simon, John H. Jonesa, (2012). Origin of water and mantle–crust interactions on Mars inferred from hydrogen isotopes and volatile element abundances of olivine-hosted melt inclusions of primitive shergottites. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, 357-358, Pages 119–129.

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