Mars

The best area for life on Mars was below the surface

  • Even though greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapor were pumped into early Martian environments in computer simulations, climate models still struggle to support a long-term hot and wet Mars

[avatar user=”Apoorva Garg” size=”thumbnail” align=”left”]by Apoorva Garg[/avatar]

The most habitable area for life on Mars would have been several miles below its surface, possibly due to the subsurface melting of a thick ice sheet thickened by geothermal heat, a Rutgers-led study concludes.

The study, published in the journal Science Advances, may help to identify what is known as the misty young Sun paradox – an important question in Mars science.

“Even though greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and water vapor were pumped into early Martian environments in computer simulations, climate models still struggle to support a long-term hot and wet Mars,” lead author Luzendra Ojha Said, an assistant professor in the department.

Earth and Planetary Sciences at the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick “I and my co-authors propose that the faint young sun paradox can be assimilated, at least partially, if higher in Mars’ past It was geothermal heat. ”

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Our sun may be a large-scale fusion reactor that produces energy by fusing chemical element into noble gas. Over time, the Sun has step by step brightened and warm the surface of the planets in our solar system. About 4 billion years ago, the sun was extremely fierce so the climate of early Mars must have been cold. However, the surface of Mars has many geological indicators, such as ancient riverbeds, and chemical indicators, such as water-related minerals, which suggest that the red planet abounded in about 4.1 billion to 3.7 billion years ago (Noachian age). This apparent contradiction between the geological record and the climate model is the faint young sun paradox.

On rocky planets such as Mars, Earth, Venus and Mercury, heat-producing elements such as uranium, thorium, and potassium generate heat through radioactive decay. In such a scenario, liquid water can be generated through melting at the bottom of thick ice sheets, even though the sun was still faint. For example, on Earth, geothermal heat forms the West Antarctic ice sheet, subglacial lakes in areas of Greenland and the Canadian Arctic. It is possible that the presence of cold-liquid water on Mars could be explained 4 billion years before a similar melting occurred.

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Scientists investigated various Mars datasets to determine whether heating through geothermal heat would be possible in the Noachian era. He showed that the conditions required to melt the subsurface must have been omnipresent on ancient Mars. Even though Mars had a warm and wet climate 4 billion years ago, liquid water can only freeze at great depths, with magnetic fields, atmospheric thinness and subsequent global temperature declines. Therefore, life, if it ever originated on Mars, can follow progressively more liquid water.

“At such depths, life can be maintained by hydrothermal (heating) activity and rock-water reactions,” said Ojha. “So, the subsurface may represent the longest habitable environment on Mars.”

According to Ossa, NASA’s Mars Insight spacecraft landed in 2018 and may allow scientists to better assess the role of geothermal heat in Mars’ habitability during the Noachian era.

Scientists from Dartmouth College, Louisiana State University and the Institute of Planetary Sciences contributed to the study.