Such a tempting conclusion was reached by researchers from Arizona State University and Stanford University. Scientists have found evidence of the first lakes, rivers and even oceans in Mars‘ past.
But now, new atmospheric models, along with data from the Curiosity rover, confirm the existence of an early molecular hydrogen atmosphere.
Evidence indicates that warm, humid Mars once had an atmosphere. It also had surface water like Earth, so it’s entirely possible that Mars was habitable (although that doesn’t necessarily mean it was habitable).
The red planet was warm and humid, and the Earth at that time was a molten stone ball that slowly cooled.
According to the study, Mars could be a “pale blue patch” covered in oceans. This discovery will allow further research into the early period in the geological history of Mars, as well as the formation and evolution of the solar system.
Measurements of rock samples by the Curiosity rover showed that most of their enrichment in the hydrogen isotope occurred early in Mars’ history. The surface water reservoir must have contained a high concentration of deuterium, the study says.
The researchers suggest that instead of an atmosphere composed of dense carbon dioxide, Mars’ early atmosphere was mostly hydrogen.
Its presence would help explain how the planet was warm enough to contain liquid water when the sun was 30% less bright than it is today.
The team developed a model for the primary evolution of the atmosphere on Mars that took into account high-temperature processes associated with different geological periods.
Models have shown that the main gases escaping from molten rock are a mixture of molecular hydrogen and water vapor and that the early atmosphere of Mars was much denser than it is today.
Scientists have calculated that molecular hydrogen would be a strong enough greenhouse gas to allow water to remain liquid for millions of years.
These oceans would even be warm (or even hot) due to the palpable greenhouse effect of molecular hydrogen content in the atmosphere.
Around 4,200 to 3,700 million years ago, Mars began the transition from a warmer, wetter planet to the extremely cold, dry environment we see today.
Despite these interesting research results, based on a wealth of evidence from orbiters, landers, and rovers, there are still unanswered questions about how long liquid water has been on the surface of Mars .
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