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Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter monitor water cycle on red planet

Discovery of new water cycle on Mars explains its barren nature

The race to Mars has always been an anticipating competition between countries as to who reaches the Red Planet and carries out exploration of the atmosphere and its terrain and soil. It has been the dream of mankind to set up colonies on Mars, many private institutions are emerging in the race to the Red Planet.

Only until recently, a new water cycle was discovered on the red planet, and thus it has explained as to why the planet lies barren without water and with red soil. The cycle dates back to around a billion years ago when Mars was all filled with water, waterlogged with rivers and oceans but since then Mars has estimated to lose close to 80% of its water due to the ultraviolet radiations from the sun and split the water molecules into hydrogen and its radicals. The study was recently published in Geophysical Research Letters.

However, the hydrogen gas readily escaped and even today Mars is believed to be leaking hydrogen into space. The atmosphere of Mars has a troposphere, which is a bit similar to that of Earth. Ideally, this layer should restrain gases from rising up the atmosphere and cause rain as the gases evaporate which is not the case. However now scientists have found answers to why Mars could not retain the water it had present on its surface whereas our mother Earth can easily retain all the water.

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They have predicted that on Mars there is summer season every two years in the southern hemisphere, during this phase the water vapour gradually rises from its surface to the atmosphere however from there winds carry this gases to the north pole and where it settles down once again but some part of this gas is released into the open space.

Scientists have found an unknown mechanism by which there is a hole being formed in this cycle, which is the reason the gases are sent out into space. Scientists have been simulating the situation at Moscow Institute of Physics and Max Plank Institute of Solar System Research which is situated in Germany.

Another contributing factor to the absence of water on Mars is the frequent dust storms; the dust absorbs the radiation of the sun and is known to increase the Martian temperature by close to 30˚C. This affects the transformation of ice into water vapour and vice versa

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More about water on Red Planet: Traces of groundwater system found on Mars

About the author: Kalpit Veerwal
Kalpit Veerwal is a second year Computer Science undergraduate at IIT Bombay. He is well known for being the only person to score 360/360 in JEE (Main). He is registered in the Limca Book of Records for the same. A blogger in his free time, he has also secured top ranks in various exams held in India and the world.

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