NASA has set a goal of getting a sustainable colony of humans on Mars by 2030, and in the years leading up to 2030 the space agency is collecting any relevant information that will assist them in the pursuit.
A big part of the data collection aspect of the mission is NASA's Mars rovers, Perseverance and Curiosity. Perseverance landed on the Red Planet on February 18, 2021 and has since been inspecting the Jezero Crater for any signs of ancient microbial life. Curiosity landed on Mars on August 6, 2012 and has been studying the geology of Mars for quite some time. Recently, Curiosity snapped an incredible view of the Martian landscape, check it out here.
Since the pursuit of Mars has begun there have been several notable discoveries, and some of them have happened in 2021. Below you will find five recent incredible discoveries about Mars that will assist the human civilization in creating a sustainable presence on Mars.
1. Mars Once Contained Water
It was recently confirmed in a paper from earlier in 2021 with images taken by NASA's recently landed Perseverance rover that the Jezero Crater was once flooded with water, and had a river delta present.
NASA's InSight probe, which is equipped with extremely sensitive instruments that measure the vibrations of deep within Mars detected the first Marsquake, and provided data that indicates Mars' crust may be anywhere between 12 and 23 miles thick. Researchers are yet to determine if Mars' core is the same as Earth's.
"Provided details on the depth and composition of Mars' crust, mantle, and core, including confirmation that the planet's center is molten. Earth's outer core is molten, while its inner core is solid; scientists will continue to use InSight's data to determine whether the same holds true for Mars," explains NASA.
3. Volcanic Super Eruptions
Back in July, 2021, a paper was published in the journal Geophysical Researcher Letters that details a study on the topography and mineral composition of a select area that's located in the northern hemisphere of Mars. The study found evidence of "super eruptions".
"Spewing water vapor, carbon dioxide, and sulfur dioxide into the air, these explosions tore through the Martian surface over a 500-million-year period about 4 billion years ago."
4. Potentially Habitable Environment
In early September, NASA's Perseverance rover collected its first rock sample, and has since collected four more samples. The samples being collected are showing signs of groundwater being present, which may even contain microbial life.
"It looks like our first rocks reveal a potentially habitable sustained environment. It's a big deal that the water was there a long time," said Ken Farley of Caltech, the project scientist for the mission.
5. Dust Storms Dry Out Mars
Researchers believe that Mars once contained quite a lot of water, but are yet to find a singular reason why it lost it all. However, they have discovered some factors at would have been at play. Using three spacecrafts researchers were able to discover the dust storms warm up higher altitudes of the cold atmosphere.
"In the higher reaches of Mars, where the atmosphere is sparse, water molecules are left vulnerable to ultraviolet radiation, which breaks them up into their lighter components of hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen, which is the lightest element, is easily lost to space, with oxygen either escaping or settling back to the surface," NASA explained
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