Mars's Water Could Be Below Surface, Experts Say

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2

Three main theories attempt to explain the puzzle.

Some suggest that water and carbon dioxide still exist on Mars in large reservoirs that are as yet unfound—probably below the planet's surface.

Other theories propose that some type of catastrophic cosmic impact removed much of the Martian atmosphere in a single event.

A third suggestion: Solar wind removed Martian water and carbon dioxide.

"I'm a plasma physicist so I really like the last one," said Barabash, a professor of experimental space physics.

"But our last study shows that escape [of water and carbon dioxide] from this channel is not as intense as we thought before, and that's a very big puzzle."

Some scientists caution that much more data is needed to make sense of the findings from Barabash's team.

"Recent measurements both from Mars Express and from Mars Global Surveyor suggest that we have not yet even described all of the loss processes at the present epoch," said Bruce Jakosky, from the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado.

"This means that we cannot yet determine the total loss rate today, let alone be able to extrapolate to earlier epochs."

Barabash also cautions that the solar wind may function in ways that scientists can't yet measure.

"It's possible that solar wind is far more complex than we think," he said. "So we have to explore other escape channels which are also associated with the solar wind."

Free Email News Updates
Best Online Newsletter, 2006 Codie Awards

Sign up for our Inside National Geographic newsletter. Every two weeks we'll send you our top stories and pictures (see sample).

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2


SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.