Water on Mars: Frost Found on Mars’ Giant Volcanoes

water on mars

Water on Mars: Frost Found on Mars’ Giant Volcanoes

Scientists have made an astonishing discovery that defies the belief that there is no water on Mars. A study published in Nature Geoscience has found frost atop Mars’ tallest volcanoes. The frost could consist of up to 150,000 tons of water – the same size as 60 Olympic swimming pools.


Frost on Martian Volcanoes

The equatorial region of Mars is home to the solar system’s tallest volcanoes. Olympus Mons, the largest, stands 27 km high, making it about three times higher than Mount Everest. These giant volcanoes on Mars are topped by large calderas (hollows), creating a unique microclimate. Images from the European Space Agency’s Trace Gas Orbiter revealed a thin dusting of frost in the calderas of the Red Planet’s volcanoes every evening.

Frost formation around Mars’ equator was previously thought improbable due to the planet’s mix of sunshine and thin atmosphere. However, the discovery of frost suggests that Mars has a dynamic climate capable of supporting water in some regions. The frost forms due to cool air reaching the peaks of the volcanoes, creating a blue patina. The frost evaporates under the morning sun, making it difficult to detect.

Frost on Olympus Mons Mars

Water on Mars: Frost found on Olympus Mons



Implications for Human Exploration and Life

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, has boldly predicted that humans could be living on Mars within the next 30 years. The tech mogul said he expects it will take “less than 10 years to land people, maybe a city in 20 years, but for sure in 30, civilization secured.” The existence of frost on Mars is significant for human exploration. The frost finding could help model water’s existence on Mars, assisting future human missions.

The current study hints that this frost may be a remnant of an ancient climate cycle on Mars. The results suggest that Mars might have had precipitation and snowfall on these volcanoes in the past. This ancient climate could have even supported microbial life.


Further Research Directions

Researchers are now focused on studying ancient hydrothermal pools on Mars, which may have contained bacteria. Samples from these vents might one day be brought to Earth for analysis. NASA’s Perseverance rover, which has been exploring the Jezero crater since 2021, could already have gathered evidence of ancient life.

The discovery of frost in the equatorial region suggests that water can be found almost anywhere on Mars. Researchers are now expanding their search to all named volcanoes on the planet. This research is crucial for understanding the Martian water cycle. Understanding this cycle is essential for human exploration.


Conclusion for Water on Mars

The discovery of water on Mars in the form of frost is a groundbreaking find that challenges previous assumptions and opens new possibilities for exploration. It highlights Mars as a dynamic planet with potential water sources in unexpected places. As scientists continue to study these phenomena, we move closer to the dream of human colonization of the Red Planet.

Finding bacteria in water on Mars would be groundbreaking, showcasing the potential of life on Mars. However, bacteria in drinking water are unwelcome on Earth. Southern Scientific offers easy-to-use drinking water test kits to ensure your water doesn’t contain any unwanted life.


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