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What happend to the water on mars?

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posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 07:50 AM
Hello to everybody at ATS, i have been an avid reader of ATS for a good few years now & have decided to join up because i have a question/theory regarding mars watery past.

Ever since it has become widepread knowledge that water once flowed on mars, i've always been puzzled as to why mars lost it's watery surface.
This question throws up more questions than answers.
Science says for life to thrive on a planet it has to be withing the so called habital zone, so if mars did once have life,
how could that be possible if mars has never been in the habital zone, after thinking about this question i came up with a theory.

Please someone put me straight on this as this question/theory is bugging me big time,
Our planets are kept in their orbits because of the sun's gravitational pull, the mass of the sun effects the overall gravitational pull on the planets,
thus keeping them in a constant & stable orbit, this is where the question/theory comes in.

Science tells us that the sun is losing 4 million tons of mass per second, so that means the moment the sun ignighted it has been losing mass every second
of the day since it's birth, that must also effect the position of the planets over time, the gravitational pull of the sun is affected by it's mass,
as the sun loses mass could it be possible that the planets are slowly drifting away from the sun,

My question/theory is, could it have been possible for mars to have once been in the habital zone, thus giving it life & flowing water, as the sun loses mass,
it's pull on the planets must be weakend & mars drifts away, then the earth enters the habital zone, as the sun loses more mass, the earth drifts way,
leaving venus the next habital planet?

What do you think!

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 07:54 AM
Apologise for the miss spelling of the word habitable.

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 08:21 AM
My guess would be the same thing that is happening to us now...
many regions of the world are drying up, given enough time, with the unusual hole in the atmosphere... its possible at one point in time in the future , earth will look a lot like mars.

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 08:49 AM
reply to post by Alan3772i
Much of the water on Mars is thought to have sublimated into space due to limited atmosphere, gravity, magnetosphere and the solar winds. An estimated 100 tons of material is lost to space (ASPERA) under the same processes each day. Water is still to be found beneath the surface and at the poles in ice form. The quantity of that water is still unknown, but maybe other members can offer more details. There are some interesting Viking images that seem to show snow or ice on the surface of Mars, although I think it's possible that the images show mineral salt. Just an idea. There was also snow recorded on Mars last September.

Regarding habitable zones...if Mars once had running water it already IS in the habitable zone. Extremophiles live every where on Earth where there is water. The next ESA mission is looking to nail the source of the methane emissions. They can only really come from volcanic activity or life.

I'd post a more detailed response but the crappy laptop I'm using right now means that this is the third time I've written an answer! Keeps going back a page and deleting everything. The first version was well-considered...this is now just off top of my head. I might come back and add more later. Frickin laptop...why isn't there a clenched fist and gritted teeth smiley?

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 09:05 AM
reply to post by Kandinsky

Thanks for the reply Kandinsky, i hope you get your laptop sorted, i would like to hear your veiws, this habitable zone is a very big head scratcher, maybe this zone is a lot bigger than we first thought, if mars is in the zone then it is essential we find out what happened, as servedsoul said, the earth could end up looking like mars well before the sun burns out.

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 09:31 AM
reply to post by Kandinsky

I've encountered the same thing with touchy laptops. Here's a smiley that is sort of appropriate: :bnghd:

Still, your post came out just fine, mostly what I understand about Mars' history. A lot of conjecture, to be sure, but it is educated conjecture!!

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 09:43 AM
reply to post by Alan3772


The solar mass (M⊙), 1.98892×1030 kg, is a standard way to express mass in astronomy, used to describe the masses of other stars and galaxies. It is equal to the mass of the Sun, about two nonillion kilograms or about 332,950 times the mass of the Earth or 1,048 times the mass of Jupiter.

The solar mass can be determined from the length of the year, the distance of the Earth to the Sun (the astronomical unit) (AU), and the gravitational constant (G)

Note the second paragraph. (There some very advanced equations in the body of the article that don't copy and paste here...)

It seems unlikely that the mass of the Sun has changed, and thus ALL of the orbits of the planets have changed appreciably over the last four or five billion years. We wouldn't see the predictable stability in the orbits.

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 10:01 AM
It is theorized that some 4 billion years ago Mars had a molten core and a fairly strong magnetic field. (4 billion year old magnetic rocks have been found on Mars but few to none beyond that time period) Sometime after this time period Mars lost its magnetic field and fell victim to the powerful solar winds which slowly reduced Mars atmosphere. Because of a much lower atmosphere density Mars lost the ability to sustain liquid water. Now on Mars water exists, however the volume is likely much less mostly ice, which evaporates, or can go from frost to vapor skipping the liquid state.

If something went terribly wrong with Earth's magnetic field and was lost or greatly reduced in strength a similar scenario could happen here, our atmosphere would slowly be stripped away eventually leaving Earth much like Mars is now.

Lost Magnetic field = lost atmosphere = lost liquid water

Just a theory.

Welcome to ATS

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 10:53 AM
Thanks for your input walkswithfish

This is a very interesting, i have just done a little search on magentic fields & our planets, & it just throws up more questions, they say mars odd magnetic field could be down to a massive impact, now how big could this impact have been, the impact that wiped out the dinosaurs must have been minor compared to the devastation that was brought to mars, is there any evidence of this great impact that may have destroyed mars magnetic field.

Also i read that Venus is the only planet without a magnetic field, & that venus is the only planet that spins in the oppersite direction, (scratches head again) could venus have been impacted so hard that it literally spun it in the oppersite direction.

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 11:39 AM
As I understand it, the rate at which Mars's atmosphere would have sublimated due to solar winds would not have been sufficient. It's thought that a large impact at some point in Mars's past would have ejected much of the planet's atmosphere - to which Mars would not have had enough mass to re-acclimate the way Earth did after it's impact with the planet Thea. As it turns out, Mars appears to have the largest impact crater known to the Solar System - as well as the tallest known mountain (Olympus Mons).

Also, the habitable zone of a solar system is not a fixed span of distance. What makes a planet hospitable is as much determined by it's geology and atmosphere density/composition as it is it's distance from the star it's orbiting. There's really no reason why Mars and Venus should not be habitable at their distances. However, Venus's atmosphere is far too thick with greenhouse gasses to be habitable - while Mars's atmosphere is far too thin to retain the energy it receives from the Sun. However, it's thought that some of the moons of the Gas Giants in the outer solar system may be habitable to life - despite falling well outside of the "habitable zone".

"Habitable Zones" are a sort of outdated thinking, which really only act as a guiding rule of thumb when searching for planets which are like Earth, but does not mean that life outside of this zone is necessarily prohibited.

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 11:53 AM
reply to post by Alan3772

as servedsoul said, the earth could end up looking like mars well before the sun burns out.

We will, with or without human intervention. While the Sun has another 4.5 (roughly) billion years of life left, as it ages it will slowly get warmer. Long before it goes Red Giant, the sun will be hot enough to boil away the oceans. However, this isn't expected to happen for at least another billion years.

Also, one poster above mentioned that the Earth's orbit is static. We're actually moving away from the Sun at about 15cm per year. This is thought to be due to the tidal bulges in the sun caused by it's orbiting planets. Sort of how the Moon's tidal bulges in the Earth cause the Earth's rotation to slow while pushing the moon into a higher orbit.

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 12:22 PM
I'm back on my own PC now and can share the details of a pdf that's been cited 90 odd times. The 'big impact theory' as an explanation for the loss of water has been largely discounted as a primary cause. Instead a series of impacts contributed to the loss of atmosphere. A period of heavy volcanic activity followed and further created the environmental conditions allowing solar winds to draw off the surface water.

1. Most of the earliest atmosphere of Mars was lost during the Early Noachian by impact erosion and hydrodynamic escape.
2. A secondary atmosphere was created by water and CO2 released to the atmosphere as a direct result of Tharsis volcanism, and this may have had a strong influence on climate. It is likely that volatiles were also released by non-Tharsis Noachian volcanism presumed to have been responsible for forming the ancient highland crust.
3. Water and CO2 were lost from the surface and atmosphere system to space, to the polar caps and to carbonate deposits within the crust. There is compelling evidence for the existence of each of these sinks, as described above, although it is not possible at this time to determine uniquely the relative or absolute importance of each.
4. There is a coincidence in the timing of major events in martian history. The decrease in the impact rate at the end of heavy bombardment, the formation of the bulk of the Tharsis construct by magmatism, the decline in the intensity or existence of an intrinsic magnetic field, the change in climate inferred from the morphological characteristics of the surface, and the loss of substantial volatiles to space all occurred at nearly the same time and marked the end of the Noachian epoch about 3.7 Gyr ago.

Mars' volatile and climate history by Jakosky & Philips

The link only lead to an abstract but I can email the pdf to anyone interested. The paper suggests that a variety of interconnected events and conditions led to the loss of surface water. In 2006, solar flares were recorded that had the effect of drawing away oxygen particles and demonstrated the possible process that accounts for the water loss...

n December 2006, the effects of a series of eruptions of high-energy particles, called solar flares, on the far-side of the sun were simultaneously recorded by four spacecraft scattered throughout the solar system: NASA's Mars Express, Venus Express and Earth-orbiting GEOS satellite, and the European Space Agency's SOHO solar orbiter, positioned in space near the sun. Sensors on the four satellites were capable of detecting the charged particles, called plasma, that stream constantly from the sun. Data collected at the red planet during the 2006 eruptions by Mars Express showed higher than average amounts of oxygen ions leaking away into space. If this occurred regularly over billions of years, it could account for Mars' missing water, speculated study team member Yoshifumi Futaana of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics.
Sun's Temper Blamed for Loss of Water on Mars

I think the main point to make is that a lot of damn fine science has been applied to finding a definitive explanation for the water loss. Like most things in life, it's rarely one cause but a series of causes occurring in sequence or in tandem.

When I was a kid, the idea of water on Mars was barely acceptable. Ten years ago, only dreamers hoped for life on Mars. Now we've got methane, ice and snow and an ESA mission to examine the methane source and 'boil some dirt.' It's a great time for all those childhood dreams

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 12:26 PM
As one member posted, there was a comet that was about the size of Eurasia that hit the northern hemisphere of Mars. When you look at the geographical maps of Mars, the norther hemisphere, is a barren plane were as the southern is more hilly and such. Also as another stated Mar's, like Earth and the moon once was, was a planet that had a molten core. It is believed for a planet or moon (Io or Europa I for get which) must not only be in the habitabal zone (Theories disprove this but no physical data has proven it due to the fact that humans have not been outside the solar system) but must be molten core. The process that allows a planet to release water to the surface is brought upon by volcanoes releasing there fumes into the atmosphere. The fumes have H2O properties but are mixed with carbon and other chemicals. When they hit the different layers of ozone's (which Mar's has very little of) the denser ones get trapped I.E. rain fall occurs where others continue to rise till they hit there point. The earth is planned to also lose its molten core process before the sun goes Red Giant. Hope that helps.

Also someone said a planet"Thea"? hit the Earth, can you please give a link because I am curious to read that.

[edit on 6/21/2009 by VenomR]

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 01:19 PM
reply to post by VenomR

Forgive the "Wiki-Sourcing".

Giant Impact Hypothesis

Nat Geo

The Origin of the Moon


I think the main point to make is that a lot of damn fine science has been applied to finding a definitive explanation for the water loss. Like most things in life, it's rarely one cause but a series of causes occurring in sequence or in tandem.

While the recent surveys (2008) have suggested the likelyhood of GIH on Mars (explaining the "two-faced" topography" - you are correct in your assertion. Our universe is an incredibly complex interacting system, and often catastrophic failures or deviations from trends are due to the interactions of multiple events. For example, we now think that the Chixchalub bolide was likely not the major cause of the extinction of the Dinosaurs, but rather a heavy blow to a struggling ecosystem already rife with attrition.

posted on Jun, 21 2009 @ 02:12 PM
reply to post by VenomR
Lasheic posted some good links in answer to your question, but I can never resist posting this image when opportunity arises!

24 Hours of Chaos: the day the Moon was made

The event is thought to have occurred some 4.6 billion years ago. At that time, the infant Solar System was like an 8ball pool tournament in an earthquake. Young planets dreamed of growing up and owning a stable orbit they could call home...

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