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Mars might be hiding most of its old water underground, scientists say

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A deposit of sediments, called a delta, captured by NASA’s Perseverance rover on March 5th at the Jezero Crater. Image: NASA / JPL Vast amounts of ancient Martian water may have been buried beneath its surface instead of escaping into space, scientists report in the journal Science . The findings, published Tuesday, may help untangle a clash of theories seeking to explain the disappearance of Mars’ water, a resource that was abundant on the planet’s surface billions of years ago.

Through modeling and data from Mars probes, rovers, and meteorites, researchers at the California Institute of Technology found that a broad range — between 30 to 99 percent — of the Red Planet’s earliest amounts of water could have vanished from the surface through a geological process called crustal hydration, where water was locked away in the rocks of Mars.

Evidence of past water on Mars is written all over its rocky surface, where dried-out lake beds and rock formations illustrate a world shaped by liquids from more than 3 billion years ago. For years, scientists thought this water had mostly escaped outward into space, leaving the planet in its present — very dry — condition.

But that takes time. And the […]

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