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Zhurong Rover Finds Evidence of Snow on Mars

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Zhurong Rover Finds Evidence of Snow on Mars

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Recent data from China’s Zhurong rover suggests that liquid water, possibly in the form of snowmelt, may have been present on Mars as recently as 400,000 years ago.

This discovery challenges previous beliefs that the last of the liquid water on Mars dried up billions of years ago.

The rover’s investigation of Utopia Planitia, the largest impact basin in the solar system, revealed that the sandy dunes on the Martian surface are coated with thin, cracked crusts and clumps of particles that can only be explained by the recent presence of liquid water.

The presence of certain mineral deposits in the dunes, such as sulfates, silica, iron oxide, and chlorides, suggests that the water was of a wintery origin.

The team suggests that the water vapor condensed as frost or snow on the dune surfaces when the temperature dropped below the frost point, and then thawed to eventually form saline water.

This was made possible by Mars’s changing axial tilt, which caused the ice caps to release high amounts of water vapor that condensed as snow closer to the equator.

While there is still the possibility that these dunes were created by some other unknown geological processes, this discovery could mean a massive rethink of the Martian geological timeline and geography.

This article was updated 4 months ago

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