Mars’s water-cycle is the reason for its barrenness


The summertime on Mars has a specific water-cycle, which might give a piece of information about the planet’s arid climate.

A long time ago, billions of years prior to our time,  Mars was an abundant water reserve world.

Nowadays, the red planet only has 20% of its original water resource. The main reason is the  Sun ultraviolet radiation since it separates water into hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen, which escapes into the outer space.

Still, there is an unanswered question: How did the water get there? Just like Earth, Mars has an atmospheric layer, which is stopping the ascending gas, forcing its deposition.

Scientists discovered the difference between Earth and Mars, and how Earth holds on to its water reserves. Mars summer takes place every two years. During that time, vapors of water rise into the upper atmosphere.  After the ascent, the majority of noble gas gets wind-carried to the North Pole, where it disintegrates into space.

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology and the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS) in Germany discovered, using the computer simulations method, how the gas escapes through the protective layer.

The main cause is  Mars’s much more elliptical Sun orbit than our planet. Thus, the martian summer in the southern hemisphere is warmer than the summer in the northern hemisphere. The water from the southern hemisphere rises locally through the warmer air and gets to the upper atmosphere, as Dr. Paul Hartogh from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MPS) explained.

The problem is aggravated by Mars’s dust storms. As particles of dust heat up while absorbing sunlight, the atmosphere can get up to 30 degrees warmer. The phenomenon was studied with accuracy, gaining information about how microphysical processes from the water-cycle are affected by dust, according to Dmitry Shaposhnikov of MPS, first author of the new study.


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