Mars Water Cycle: How Did Mars Lost Most Of Its Water?


Once every two years, when it is summer on the southern hemisphere of Mars, there’s a window opening, revealing more about Mars water cycle. It is only then when the water vapors practically rise from the lower into the upper Martian atmosphere. That’s also the place where winds can carry the gas to the north pole.

New Mars water cycle revealed by researchers

The part of the water vapors decays and escapes into space. In the meantime, the rest of it sinks back into the poles. Some researchers from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research have talked about this unusual Martian water cycle. It’s all written in the current issue of the Geophysical Research Letters, as reported on Phys by Max Planck Society.

There’s a computer simulation that shows how the water vapors overcome the barrier made out of the cold air, right in the middle of the atmosphere of Mars. Then, it reaches higher atmospheric layers. That is actually a good explanation of why Mars has lost most of its water, and Earth did not.

Mars lost 80 percent of its original water

As you probably already know, billions of years ago, Mars was full of rivers, it even had an ocean, and could have been habitable. But ever since then, the Red Planet has changed a lot. Today, there are only small amounts of frozen water that still exist in the ground and at the planet’s poles. It’s been shown that in the atmosphere of Mars, water vapors are found only in traces.

It seems that the planet may have lost at least 80% of its original water. Somewhere in the upper atmosphere of Mars, the ultraviolet radiation that comes from the sun managed to split the water molecules into hydroxyl radicals (OH) and hydrogen (H). However, the hydrogen escaped from there into space. Telescopes have shown that even today, the remaining water is still lost this way.


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