National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and an international team of planetary scientists found an evidence in meteorites on Earth that indicates Mars has a distinct reservoir of water or ice near its surface.
The findings were published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters on 18 December 2014.
This discovery helps resolve the question of where the missing Martian water may have gone. However, the controversy still surrounds the origin, abundance and history of water on Mars.
The findings support the hypothesis that a buried cryosphere accounts for a large part of the initial water budget of Mars.
Findings of the research
• The research provides evidence for the existence of a third reservoir that is intermediate in isotopic composition between the Mars' mantle and its current atmosphere.
• This reservoir has a non-atmospheric hydrogen isotopic composition. This hydrogen reservoir represents hydrated crust or ground ice.
• The distinct hydrogen isotopic signature of the water reservoir must be of sufficient size that it has not reached isotopic equilibrium with the atmosphere.
• This reservoir could account for a large part of the initial water budge of Mars.
Researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology, the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington and NASA’s Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Division studied three Martian meteorites.
Scientists compared water, other volatile element concentrations and hydrogen isotopic compositions of glasses within the meteorites which may have formed due to the eruption of rocks to the surface of Mars in ancient volcanic activity.
They examined two possibilities that the signature for the newly identified hydrogen reservoir either reflects near surface ice interbedded with sediment or that it reflects hydrated rock near the top of the Martian crust.