July 15, 2024

Life on Mars? Why does the size of the planet make the hypothesis difficult

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Life on Mars?  Why does the size of the planet make the hypothesis difficult
Life on Mars?  Why does the size of the planet make the hypothesis difficult

Mars once hosted rivers, lakes, streams, and perhaps even a huge ocean that covered a large part of it. Northern Hemisphere. This is what scientists indicate according to the observations of explorers such as Curiosity robots and determinationNASA.

According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academies of SciencesOh red planet It was doomed to lose surface water in the long run due to its size.

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“The fate of Mars has been decided from the beginning. There is likely to be a limit to the size requirements of planets Kun Wang, co-author of the study and assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at the University of Washington in the USA, said in release.

Water, an element indispensable to life as we know it, practically disappeared on Mars about 3.5 billion years ago, when the Red Planet lost its global magnetic field, which had protected the local air from being swept away by charged particles from the Sun.

In the study, scientists led by Zhen Tian, ​​a graduate student in Wang’s lab, examined 20 meteorites Mars. These rocks were chosen because they represent the mass formation of the red planet.

Meteorite material is being examined
Meteorite material is being examined. Credits: Sean Garcia/University of Washington

Small planets are harmful to life

The result of the research is that minor planets lose a lot of water during formation and that their global magnetic fields also close relatively early, resulting in an unprotected atmosphere. To give you an idea, Earth’s global magnetic field is still strong as it is powered by a dynamo inside our planet.

However, it should be noted that some scientists believe that Mars still supports aquifers that potentially sustain life. Like Europa, Jupiter’s moon, and Saturn’s moon Enceladus, they have huge oceans under layers of ice.

This study confirms that there is a very limited size range for planets to have enough water but not too much to develop a habitable surface environment. These findings will guide astronomers in their search for habitable exoplanets in other solar systems,” said study co-author Klaus Mezger of the Center for Space and Habitat at the University of Bern, Switzerland.

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