Ancient ocean on Mars could have formed from carbon-rich chondrites
(ORDO NEWS) — A team of researchers from the Center for Star and Planet Formation at the University of Copenhagen has found evidence that most of the water that made up the ancient ocean on Mars came from carbon-rich chondrite meteorites that arrived from the outer solar system.
Previous studies have suggested that Mars was once covered by a watery ocean, and that water was formed from gases seeping from below the surface and thinning as it cooled.
In this new work, the researchers suggest that the water most likely came from another source – meteorites that came from the outer solar system.
The researchers came to this conclusion after studying fragments ejected from the surface of Mars after asteroid impacts. These fragments hit the Earth in the form of meteorites.
The researchers studied 31 of them, looking for fingerprints of chromium isotopes.
Chromium-54 does not occur naturally on Mars, so its presence in Martian crustal samples would indicate that the Martian surface received this material from somewhere else.
The researchers found enough material to calculate how many meteorites fell on Mars. Previous studies have shown that such meteorites are 10% water.
Scientists were able to calculate how much water was likely delivered to the planet. It would be enough to cover the entire surface of Mars, and the depth of this world ocean would be up to 300 meters.
The researchers suggest that water-rich asteroids were the main source of water that filled the oceans of Mars.
The scientists also concluded that most of the water on other bodies in the solar system probably also came from the outer part of the solar system with the help of meteorites.
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