Mars' Ancient Ocean

  • Released Thursday, March 5th, 2015
  • Updated Wednesday, May 3rd, 2023 at 1:49PM
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For decades, planetary scientists have suspected that ancient Mars was a much warmer, wetter environment than it is today, but estimates of just how much water Mars has lost since its formation vary widely. Now, new isotopic measurements by researchers at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center reveal that an ocean once covered approximately twenty percent of the Martian surface. This new picture of early Mars is considerably wetter than many previous estimates, raising the odds for the ancient habitability of the Red Planet.

Animation - Hydrogen atoms escape from the Mars upper atmosphere, while water containing heavy hydrogen (deuterium) remains trapped on the planet. The escape of hydrogen helped to turn Mars from a wet planet 4.5 billion years ago into a dry world today.



Credits

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NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center


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Tapes

This visualization originally appeared on the following tapes:
  • Mars Ocean (ID: 2015011)
    Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 5:00AM
    Produced by - Dan Jacob