A new look at ancient Martian asteroids suggests that the Red Planet had liquid water hundreds of millions of years earlier than we knew. That would be a real surprise for Mars.
Scientists have long known that meteorites NWA 7034 and NWA 7533, which landed in the Sahara desert years ago, came here from Mars. Thus, researching the history of meteorites, scientists at the University of Tokyo now say they found signs of oxidation – suggesting that water was present – from 4.4 billion years ago, according to a investigation recently published in the journal Science Advances.
Scientists have brought together the history of the Martian oceans about 3.7-4 billion years ago. If this new study continues to be examined, it would mean that the planet’s liquid water was around 400 million years longer, at least, before scientists found out.
What good is this discovery about Mars?
The discovery could help reveal where planetary water comes from – either as a passenger of impacting meteorites or as a byproduct of planetary formation, according to the study.
Ironically, the researchers suggest that the impact of the meteorite that sent NWA 7034 and NWA 7533 to Earth could have been one of the events that caused Mars to begin to dry up.
“This oxidation could have occurred if there was water on or in the Martian crust 4.4 billion years ago, during an impact that melted part of the crust,” study author Takashi Mikouchi said in a statement. Press release. “Our analysis also suggests that such an impact would have released a lot of hydrogen, which would have helped warm the planet at a time when Mars already had a thick carbon-insulating atmosphere.”