Scientists has figured out how once water filled Mars came to be the Red Planet.
It seems Mars has a weird water cycle. Before we get into our neighboring planet’s business, lets understand how it works on our own home. Dont worry, I will keep this short and get into the good stuff soon.
So, a little trip down the lane, Evaporation, where water evaporates and gets into the atmosphere. Followed by Transpiration, which is same as evaporation, but only here the body of water are plants. Next is, Condensation, the evaporated water condenses to form clouds. The water then becomes heavy that pours down as rain/snow resulting in Precipitation. The last two process of the cycle are Runoff and Percolation, which basically is rain filling up rivers, lakes and the water that falls on the earth’s surface ends up getting soaked by the ground. Thus finishing the water cycle.
Now that the basic geography is out of the way, lets look into Mars water cycle.
Martian atmosphere extends upto 160 kilometers from the surface. About between 60 and 90 kilometers, the middle of the atmosphere is where it gets really cold that prevents water vapour escape. Although some reaches the upper atmosphere, a portion of the vapour is stopped by the middle cold layer and is drifted towards the north pole, where it cools and settles down – causing the ice cap on Mars north pole.
This is what was believed and known until, a recent study by a team of Russian and German scientists who observed an anomalous behavior of water in the Red Planet.
During summer on Mars, unlike Earth, the sun gets significantly closer to the planet’s southern hemisphere. This causes the water vapour to raise warm air masses to its upper atmosphere. This opens up a limited window in the atmosphere, that causes water to escape leaving the land dry. This happens only twice a day and in very specific locations during summer. It had happened long enough to have become what Mars is today.
Adding to this theory, dust storms on Mars happens very often. These dust storms prevents light in reaching the surface and gets stuck in the atmosphere, warms them up causing water molecules to escape the planet. There, another cause. Does this need any more explanation?
Researches wrote that this process could be part of the story of how a once-drenched Mars has ended up so dry in its current epoch.
Isn’t this a fascinating mystery?