The Red Planet holds water longer than before

Mars currently does not have a core generator, but the crust’s strong magnetic field connected to many of its ancient landforms suggests that there was. However, the high altitude and low spatial resolution of available measurements, inaccurate dating of surface features, and poorly defined magnetic source regions have made it difficult to obtain information. exact history of that generator from orbital measurements of the earth’s crust fields. Therefore, there are still questions about some important features of generators.

According to a recent study, the Red Planet may have had liquid water on its surface longer than previously thought.

A closer look at a previously studied Martian meteorite reveals the potential basis of such a compelling hypothesis. According to new research, Mars has had a similar magnetic field to Earth for hundreds of millions of years longer than previously thought. Such a field could deflect dangerous cosmic rays, opening the door for the existence of the atmosphere and everything it entails.

Scientists have been searching for records of the planet’s magnetic field, which represent evidence of an early dynamo on Mars. The generator describes how the liquid in the planet’s core moves to create a strong magnetic field around the planet.

Sarah Steele, a third-year graduate student in Earth and planetary sciences, said, “If generators last longer on Mars and play a similar role, that could help keep the surface habitable for longer. But on the other hand, the magnetic fields around Mars could behave differently – they may even have helped the atmosphere escape into space.”

Using a new, improved quantum magnetic field microscope, scientists have pinpointed where the planet went missing 3.9 billion years ago or later.

Steel said, “Those days sound very close together. But a large amount of the content that we are interested in, such as questions about water, is in that window.”

Professor Roger Fu, John L. Loeb, Associate Professor of Natural Sciences, said, “This suggests that the generally accepted timeline for Mars’ magnetic field cannot be accurate. It is likely to last at least 200 million years and possibly even longer.”

The Allan Hills 84001 meteorite was recovered from Antarctica in 1984 and its samples were studied using an advanced quantum diamond microscope at Fu’s laboratory. This extremely sensitive technique demonstrated that the meteorite’s iron-sulphide minerals were strongly magnetized in many directions billions of years ago when Mars was still the meteorite’s original location. These minerals respond to the magnetic field of Mars, like a compass drawn to the magnetism of the planet’s North Pole.

Phuc said, “These findings build on data gathered from NASA’s Mars Atmospheric and Atmospheric Evolution (MAVEN) mission, which orbited the planet beginning in 2014 and, among other studies, have worked to explain the remaining magnetic signals emanating from the crust.”

Data from Steele and Fu’s team also reveal that Mars’ magnetic field is sometimes reversible, like Earth’s.

Allan Hill 84001
Samples from the Allan Hills meteorite 84001. Credit: Harvard University

Steel said, “Although these inversions are still poorly understood, they may eventually give clues to the core of Mars. Over the last few years, we’ve had better estimates of the core’s size and discovered that it’s mostly or possibly entirely liquid. Mars may have a solid inner core, but if it does, it’s very small.»

“In contrast, the Earth has a solid inner core and a liquid outer core. «That tells us that some of the chemistry deep inside Mars is quite different from what’s on Earth, which has broader implications for how the planet was formed.»

Steel said, “If the magnetic field on Mars was similar to that of Earth, it probably would have done a good job of protecting Mars from this energetic solar wind as well. Then, when the generator shuts down, that could be the cause of Mars’ loss of atmosphere. From that point on, the atmosphere can be rapidly eroded… And that leads to the depletion of water — or liquid water — on the surface of Mars.»

“There are counterarguments, including the suggestion that the magnetic field may have accelerated atmospheric escape,” so a longer-lived generator could even help Mars lose water. That would be interesting because we’re still not sure how Mars lost its water and atmosphere so quickly.»

Reference magazine:

  1. Sarah Stelle, Roger Fu et al. Paleomagnetic evidence for a long-lived, reversible Martian dynamo at ~3.9 Ga. Advances of science. DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.ade9071

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