Space & Astronomy
Chinese rover finds evidence of water on the surface of Mars
By T.K. Randall
April 30, 2023 · 2 comments
A selfie taken by the Zhurong rover. Image Credit: CC BY 3.0 China News Service
The rover, which fell silent over a year ago and may never wake up, observed evidence of water just before it entered hibernation.
It's not just NASA that has been operating rovers on Mars - China's Zhurong rover, for example, had been exploring the planet's Utopia Planitia region just before it entered hibernation mode in preparation for the bitter Martian winter around one year ago.
While scientists have since admitted that the rover has failed to wake up and probably never will, it did manage to make some interesting observations beforehand of what are thought to be salt-rich dunes with cracks and crusts indicative of melting frost or snow in the relatively recent past (sometime between 1.4 million and 400,000 years ago).
Further study will be needed to confirm the findings, but there is optimism that the observations could point to the possibility of "water activity" on the planet's surface at a time when the conditions were more or less the same as they are now.
It is even possible that the conditions in some parts of Mars could allow for the formation of water even in the present day, although this phenomenon has yet to be directly observed.
All we can say for sure right now is that the observed cracks, ridges and crusty surface are not the result of the Martian wind, so something else is definitely going on.
"This is clearly a new piece of science for this region," wrote planetary scientist Frederic Schmidt.
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