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Early meteorites carried enough water to Mars to form a global ocean

Martin Bizarro from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, together with his colleagues, has investigated the concentration of the rare chromium isotope known as chromium-54 in samples of meteorites that came to Earth from Mars. This study was done to estimate the amount of stored water in asteroids on the Red Planet. Mars’ top layer contains the chemical signatures of carbonaceous or C-type meteorites that bombarded it about 4.5 billion years ago. This bombardment happened when the Martian crust had solidified.

Mars does not consist of large and mobile technological plates that cause the material inside and the surface of the planet to fall around. Accordingly, the chemical signature of meteorites must have been preserved in the rocks of the planet’s crust; Of course, the rocks of the lower mantle of Mars must also have signs of the state of Mars before this bombardment.

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Bizarro says about this:

The chemical signature of meteorites is just like DNA, and carbonaceous asteroids have a very distinct chromium isotope composition compared to the inner planets of the solar system.

By observing the difference in the amount of chromium-54 in meteorites that came to Earth from the crust or lower mantle of Mars, researchers can estimate the mass of the asteroids that first collided with Mars. They believe that if only 10% of the primary bombardment asteroids were composed of water, they would have stored enough molecules to form a global ocean.

If this amount of water is spread over the entire planet Mars, it will create an ocean with a depth of 300 meters. Martin Bizarro, pointing out that finally a definitive proof has been obtained in this field, emphasized that now it can be said with certainty that the asteroids that hit Mars were rich in water.

According to researchers, C-type asteroids also contain essential elements for life. This means that two examples of the most important substances necessary for life, organic molecules and water, existed on Mars even before the formation of Earth’s moon. Simon Turner from Macquarie University in Sydney believes that this paper provides good evidence for the existence of C-type asteroids in the mantle of Mars; Of course, the samples of these meteorites may not represent the majority of the material in the mantle of this planet.


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