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The sign of the mysterious radar of Mars is not water: the elaboration of something more on red planets

Scientists have found something which is not water on Mars. Get details here…

Tuesday, 3rd August 2021

The search for life beyond Earth’s orbit has become one of the greatest obsessions of astronomers, and Mars is considered the most privileged place for such discoveries. Life flourishes in the presence of water, and recent studies have shown that there are underground lakes on this red planet, which has aroused the interest of the whole world.


Now, some scientists believe that the radar signals that indicate the presence of water in these lakes located deep on the surface may appear from clay, rather than from the water. Three articles published last month provided new insights into the mysterious signs that hypothesized the lake was depleted.


In 2018, a team led by Roberto Orosei of the Italian National Astronomical Institute announced evidence of the existence of an underground lake under the Martian Antarctic ice sheet. The team studied data from a radar instrument on the European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Express orbiter, which showed a bright signal below the polar cap. Scientists believe that these signals can be interpreted as liquid water.


The Orbiter uses radar signals to penetrate rocks and ice, which changes when reflected by different materials. However, after the researchers conducted tests in a cold laboratory, they now show that the signal did not come from the water.


Too cold for lakes

Researchers now say that many of these lakes may be located in areas that are too cold for the water to remain liquid. Aditya R Khuller and Jeffrey J Plaut of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) analyzed 44,000 radar echoes from the bottom of the ice sheet during 15 years of observations. They found many such signals in areas close to the surface, where it should be too cold for the water to remain liquid.


Two independent teams further analyzed the data to determine if anything else might generate these signals. While Carver Bierson of ASU was completing a theoretical study, he proposed several materials that could cause signals, including clay. Isaac Smith of York University measured the properties of montmorillonite, a group of clays spread all over Mars.


Also Read: Marsquakes offer detailed look at red planet’s interior.


Clay, not water

Smith put several smectite samples that looked like ordinary rocks but were formed from liquid water a long time ago into a cylinder designed to measure how radar signals interact with them. Then he watered them with liquid nitrogen and frozen them to minus 50 degrees Celsius, close to the temperature observed at the South Pole of Mars. Once frozen, the rock sample perfectly matched the radar observations of the ESA Mars Orbiter.


Then, the team used the MRO to find the presence of such clay on Mars, which had a mineral mapping instrument called a compact reconnaissance imaging spectrometer. They discovered the green soil scattered around the Antarctic ice sheet. "Smith's team showed that frozen montmorillonite can produce reflections that do not require unusual amounts of salt or heat, and exist in Antarctica," said the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Not the first such claim

The underground lake hypothesis is not the first hypothesis to have attracted global attention. In 2015, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter discovered streaks of wet sand that appeared to flow down a slope. This phenomenon is called the "circular slope line." Researchers have detected characteristics of hydrated minerals on the slopes of the mysterious fringes of this red planet. These dark stripes seem to ebb and flow over time.


However, repeated observations using the spacecraft's HiRISE camera showed that the granular flow is sand and dust sliding downward to form black stripes, rather than the ground being darkened by water seepage. This phenomenon only exists on slopes steep enough to allow the dry grain to descend such as on the surface of active dunes.


Although it is impossible to confirm what the bright radar signal is without landing on the south pole of Mars, the latest research provides a more logical explanation than liquid water.


The News Talkie Bureau



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