Modern Mars is drier than the Sahara desert, although the water on it remained in the form of ice caps and permafrost in the depth of the soil. To calculate the amount of water contained in the past on the red planet, scientists measured the amount of hydrogen isotopes in the atmosphere of the planet, using two powerful telescopes.
According to researchers, about 4.3 billion years ago, water volumes on Mars exceeded 20 km 3 . It is assumed that the water mass was not evenly distributed over the land surface, but concentrated in the northern hemisphere. The Martian ocean covered 19% of the surface, and in some depressions the depth of the water reached 1.6 km. This is even more in volume than our Arctic Ocean, and the percentage of occupied surface exceeds the Atlantic.
In comparison with the original Mars, the amount of water there today is 6.5 times less, which indicates an incredible leakage of water from the planet, which began 3.7 billion years ago. The quality of today’s water and its chemical structure has also undergone changes. NASA scientists note that the water remaining on Mars is predominantly HDO (instead of H 2O), where D is deuterium, replacing the hydrogen atom. Deuterium makes the water heavier, so part of the water just did not leak from the Martian surface into the atmosphere.
The results obtained give the ground for more optimistic forecasts regarding the question “Was there life on Mars?”