Mars’ planetary landscape has baffled scientists for a long time. There have long been debates on how the planet’s surface landscape developed in the absence of large amounts of water. But now there’s an answer. Scientists at The Open University (OU) have found that martian sand “levitates” in boiling water.
This is useful because the planet’s thin atmosphere and hot surface temperatures cause water on the surface to boil. Using this newly-discovered “levitation” effect, the water is able to move large amounts of sand on Mars to create dunes, gullies and other planetary features. The researchers at OU carried out their experiments at their Mars Simulation Chamber, Science Daily reports.
“Our research has discovered that this levitation effect caused by boiling water under low pressure enables the rapid transport of sand and sediment across the surface,” said Dr Jan Raack lead author of the research by OU.
“The sources of this liquid water will require more observational studies; however, the research shows that the effects of relatively small amounts of water on Mars in forming features on the surface may have been widely underestimated.”
Dr Raack added that he and his team plan on continuing their research into how this levitation phenomenon works. Findings from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) ExoMars 2020 Rover will help to offer insight into how boiling water created Mars’ planetary surface. According to the ESA’s website, the goal of the rover’s mission will be to collect organic material from the subsurface and determine its physical and chemical characteristics.
Previous missions to Mars have revealed some exciting new details about The Red Planet, Science Daily reported. NASA’s Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) spacecraft recently discovered that Earth’s closest neighbor has a magnetic tail that coils in response to solar winds. The conditions that created the tail could explain how Mars lost so much of its atmosphere and transformed it from a planet that could have supported life to a barren landscape. Mars’ magnetic tail is unique in our solar system and can be considered a hybrid between Earth’s magnetic field and Venus’ magnetic tail.
Scientists believe that Mars’ magnetic field dissipated a billion years ago. Now the planet has what are called “fossil magnetic fields” ingrained in particular areas on its land surface. Mars’ magnetic tail develops when these fossil magnetic fields interact with solar winds who have their own fields of magnetism. There’s a name for this process. It’s called magnetic reconnection.
Do you think that all this research will lead to humans one day colonizing Mars? Let us know your spacey predictions in the comments below.
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