Now a desolate red desert, a new study has claimed that Mars was once mostly blue.
While researchers have long agreed that our red neighbor once held water, the question of how much water it held has been a subject of debate.
Now, a new study has revealed that Mars was covered by 300-meter-deep oceans 4.5 billion years ago.
Researchers at the University of Copenhagen hope the findings could bring humanity one step closer to answering a crucial question: Did Mars ever have life?
A new study claims that Mars was covered by oceans 300 meters deep 4.5 billion years ago
A meteoroid impact crater created on December 24, 2021 in the Amazonis Planitia region of Mars
Evidence that Mars once held water
Spirit and Opportunity, NASA’s twin rovers, found evidence of the presence of water trapped in rock in 2007 when one of Spirit’s wheels broke and stuffed a piece of rock.
Analysis of the silica-rich layer discovered in the scratch suggested it had formed in the presence of liquid water.
In 2008, the Phoenix lander collected geological samples and they disappeared after a few days.
Scientists thought these were pieces of ice. This assessment was confirmed when the lander later detected water vapor in a sample.
In 2012, Curiosity meandered across an ancient Martian seafloor when it examined some rocks exposed to liquid water billions of years ago.
The study estimates that the oceans covered the entire planet and could be anywhere from 300 meters to 1,000 meters deep.
Since the planet is about half the size of Earth, Professor Martin Bizzarro of the Center for Star and Planet Formation says there is actually very little water on our planet by comparison.
According to Professor Bizzarro, this water was brought to Mars by asteroids filled with ice.
In addition to water, the icy asteroids also brought biologically relevant molecules such as amino acids to Mars.
Amino acids are used when DNA and RNA form bases that contain everything a cell needs.
Professor Bizzarro explained: ‘This happened within the first 100 million years of Mars.
‘After this period, something catastrophic for potential life on Earth happened.
“There is believed to have been a gigantic collision between Earth and another Mars-sized planet.
“It was an energetic collision that formed the Earth-Moon system and at the same time wiped out all potential life on Earth.”
To reach these conclusions, the researchers studied a meteorite that is billions of years old.
Speaking to MailOnline, Professor Bizzarro explained that the meteorite was formed 4.5 billion years ago and is now “a fragment of the original Martian crust.”
“So it records the bombing history of the planet,” he explained.
Billions of years ago, Mars was hit by asteroids filled with ice and critical organic material
Unlike Earth, Mars has no tectonic plates deep below its surface, as the scorching molten rock has long since cooled to form a rocky mantle.
As a result, the researchers note that the crust remains static, leaving the surface of the planet unchanged.
This allows them to study Mars’ past in a way that would be impossible on Earth.
Professor Bizzarro added: ‘Plate tectonics on Earth have erased all evidence of what happened in the first 500 million years of our planet’s history.
“The plates are constantly moving and being carried back and destroyed in the interior of our planet.
“Mars, on the other hand, has no plate tectonics so the planet’s surface preserves a record of the planet’s earliest history.”
The new study comes shortly after experts claimed that ancient microbes could survive hundreds of millions of years beneath the Martian surface in “floating animation.”
Researchers say a bacteria called Deinococcus radiodurans could survive on Mars for 280 million years — nearly 300 times longer than previously believed — if buried 10 meters below the Red Planet’s surface.
D. radiodurans is also known as ‘Conan the Bacterium’ and a ‘superhero of the bacterial world’ for its toughness, which has even earned it the title ‘world’s strongest known bacteria’ in the Guinness Book of Records.
Like a muscular movie hero, he resists attacks of acid baths, high and low temperatures and even radiation doses.
While Conan the Bacterium is unlikely to exist on Mars, the researchers believe a similar microorganism could have existed on the Red Planet for a similar period of time.
LAUNCHED IN 2011, THE NASA MARS CURIOSITY ROVER HAS IMPROVED OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THE RED PLANET
The Mars rover Curiosity first launched on November 26, 2011 from Cape Canaveral, a United States Air Force station in Florida.
After traveling 560 million km (350 million miles), the £1.8 billion ($2.5 billion) research vehicle landed just 1.5 miles away from its designated landing site.
After a successful landing on August 5, 2012, the rover covered approximately 18 km.
It was launched on the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) spacecraft, and the rover made up 23 percent of the total mission’s mass.
With 80 kg (180 lb) of scientific instruments on board, the rover weighs a total of 899 kg (1,982 lb) and is powered by a plutonium fuel source.
The rover is 2.9 meters long, 2.7 meters wide and 2.2 meters high.
The Mars curiosity rover was initially envisioned as a two-year mission to gather information to help answer whether the planet could support life, have liquid water, study the climate and geology of Mars, and has been active for more than 2,000 days since then.
The rover was initially envisioned as a two-year mission to collect information to help answer whether the planet could support life, have liquid water, study the climate and geology of Mars.
Due to its success, the mission has been extended indefinitely and has now been active for over 3,500 days.
The rover carries several scientific instruments, including the mastcam, which consists of two cameras and can take high-resolution photos and videos in true color.
So far on the car-sized robot’s journey he has come across an ancient stream bed where liquid water used to flow, not long after he also discovered that billions of years ago a nearby area known as Yellowknife Bay was part of a lake that could have supported microbial life.