It is believed that billions of years ago, Mars might have been a planet very similar to ours, with abundant liquid water on its surface. However, as time passed, that water rose into the thin Martian atmosphere and then evaporated off into outer space. There is a very limited quantity of water vapors left in the planet’s atmosphere today, and a new study proves that vapor is being lost faster than it was previously believed.
About the research
The research was published in the Science journal and was based on data provided by the Trace Gas Orbiter that is in orbit around Mars to determine how water moved up and down through the layers of the Martian atmosphere in order to realize how fast it actually evaporates away.
It was discovered that the vapor changes through the seasons and it turned out that in the warmer months the atmosphere holds way more water than expected because of a state called “supersaturation”.
Whenever the atmosphere becomes supersaturated, the evaporation of water takes place even faster.
The authors of the study explain:
“Unconstrained by saturation, the water vapor globally penetrates through the cloud level, regardless of the dust distribution, facilitating the loss of water to space.”
Supersaturation proved to be unaffected by the density of dust or ice particles in the atmosphere.
What does this mean?
Unfortunately for us, the fact that water evaporates so fast off the planet translates to a very slim chance of liquid water discovery on the planet’s surface.