TUCSON, Sept. 9 (UPI) — Measurements by NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander are evidence liquid water has had an impact on the planet’s surface throughout its history, U.S. researchers say.
Measurements made by the spacecraft’s Evolved Gas Analyzer, designed and built by scientists at the University of Arizona, also suggest liquid water has existed mostly at near-freezing temperatures, meaning hydrothermal systems similar to hot springs on Earth probably have been rare in Mars history, a UA release said.
Measured ratios of isotopes in martian carbon dioxide shed new light on the history of water and volcanic activity on the surface of Mars, researchers say.
“We use the TEGA instrument as a crime scene investigator,” said William V. Boynton, a professor in UA’s department of planetary sciences. “Like a chemical fingerprint, isotopes tell us what process is responsible for making the material we are studying.”
The isotope analysis revealed martian carbon dioxide is similar to carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere.
This unexpected result reveals that Mars is a much more geologically active planet than previously thought, and that the carbon dioxide has reacted with liquid water present on the surface, the scientists say.
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