Mars may have less water than previously thought

(ORDO NEWS) — Researchers at the Auden Institute and the Jackson School of Geosciences have developed an improved model for planet-scale prediction of groundwater flows on Mars that is not only more accurate, but, according to its author, more elegant.

It is believed that Mars faced a huge problem about four billion years ago.

The Late Heavy Bombardment refers to the period when a disproportionate number of asteroids are thought to have collided with Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

Many meteors and meteorites collided with Mars, resulting in a large number of massive impact craters on the surface of the Red Planet. This event is also believed to have created the northern lowland – so large it can be seen from space – where much of the Martian landmass appears to be literally cut off.

It is believed that this basin was once a huge body of water. “There used to be a lot of water on Mars, and there was probably still ice there before this collision.”

This was reported by Mohammad Afzal Shadab, a CSEM graduate student at the Auden Institute, whose team developed a very simple mathematical formula to predict how high the water table could be.

Titled: “Estimating the Martian Mean Recharge Rate from Groundwater Analytical Models”, the study is being led by Mark Hesse and in collaboration with Eric Hyatt.

“Using curvilinear coordinate transformation and groundwater flow dynamics, we have developed analytical solutions for a stable unconstrained aquifer under the southern highlands of the Noic period of Mars (4 billion years ago),” Shadab said.

They also used models to study self-consistent combinations of recharge (rainfall or precipitation) and hydraulic conductivity.

Although models had been developed before, scientists relied on the simpler Cartesian method of mapping. No, previous Martian cartographers were not flat earthers. But these early simplified models, mostly limited to Cartesian coordinates, turned out to be not quite right.

Even though the planets are spherical, no one has used spherical coordinates so far. Why? Simply put, because it requires more complex math. “We found that all previously published estimates of recharge rates are orders of magnitude below what early Mars could have accommodated,” he added.

Interestingly, the more “complex” mathematical model was able to give a simpler analysis than previous simulations.

“Simplicity is the wrong word. More elegant, I would say,” he added. “And 3D simulations on complex geometries with craters and proposed coastlines, developed by my colleagues at the Jackson School, confirm the model by showing the same behavior.”

So northern Mars is headless. But it has very deep pits, an area known as the northern lowlands. There are also the southern highlands, where higher, mountainous terrain prevails.

Shadab and the research team created a model of a hypothetical ocean in the northern lowlands that is connected to, or “recharged” by, an aquifer throughout the southern highlands.


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