As the rover Pathfinder accidentally discovered water on Mars

As the rover Pathfinder accidentally discovered water on Mars

Pathfinder spacecraft and Sojourner rover studying a large Martian stone.

In 1997, the Mars Pathfinder (Mars Pathfinder) spacecraft performed a successful landing on the Red Planet. As a landing zone, we chose the area of ​​the plain of Chris in the Ares valley. The landing pad arrived along with the rover, who went to explore the area. What did you find during the mission?

The story began in the 1970s. with the launch of the device Mariner-9. The mission studied the Red Planet from orbit. During the study, it was possible to find hints of water erosion, which means that once there was water on Mars. To continue to explore the issue, Mars Pathfinder was sent to the estimated location of the water location in the past.

Great attention was paid to the study of the Martian canals that appeared on the planet about 3.4 billion years ago. They seemed huge. For example, a canal in the Kasei valley stretched for 2500 km, and 400 km wide. The main theory was that these canals were created by water flows released from surface sources. But there were suspicions of lava flows and debris.

As the rover Pathfinder accidentally discovered water on Mars

Martian Channels in Chaos Aurora.

The dilemma had to be solved by the mission mars pathfinder. The vehicle and the rover explored the Ares valley, local stones and canals. Conclusions indicated that there was a flood on Mars, but the water level was insignificant (10 times less than expected). It seemed that the story ends. But! More than 20 years have passed and the new study states that Mars Pathfinder not only found signs of water, but also managed to land between the former sea and the ocean! The findings are based on data collected by the rover, as well as modern geological maps of Mars and numerous computer models.

The tip came from the Simoud Basin, located 250 km from the Marshohohodtsa landing site. By the size of this pool covers the territory of California and is located just above the estimated Martian North Ocean. It was not channel-bound, so it was dried about 3,400 million years ago.

As the rover Pathfinder accidentally discovered water on Mars

Diagrams depicting the leakage mechanism (left), the estimated inland sea and the Northern Ocean. Area A corresponds to the diagram on the left. The location of Pathfinder is also indicated.

A computer model showed how flood waters gradually filled the pool with water, forming a large inland sea. As a result, a land barrier was created between the North Ocean and the basin, in which Mars Pathfinder was located. Later, the water went outside the pool and covered this barrier, leaving traces (sedimentary materials) found by the rover.

Where has the sea gone? Researchers believe that during the frosty period the water was covered with ice, and then succumbed to evaporation and sublimation. The possibility of returning to the landing site of Mars Pathfinder is now being considered in order to carefully study the remains of marine sediments. Perhaps they hide traces of primitive Martian life.

Comments (0)