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Conditions favorable to life may once have existed all over Mars, the European Space Agency said Friday.
Two spacecraft have found evidence that liquid water was widespread over the red planet.
The ESA's Mars Express and NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have discovered hydrated silicate minerals in the northern lowlands of Mars, a clear indication that water once flowed there, the ESA said.
"We can now say that the planet was altered on a global scale by liquid water more than 4 billion years ago," said the report's lead author, John Carter of the University of Paris. Scientists said it's difficult to draw conclusions about the type of environment that existed on Mars when it had water, but they do have some clues.
Billions of years ago, Venus probably had much more water. Venus Express has certainly confirmed that the planet has lost a large quantity of water into space.
It happens because ultraviolet radiation from the Sun streams into Venus' atmosphere and breaks up the water molecules into atoms: two hydrogens and one oxygen. These then escape to space.
Venus Express has measured the rate of this escape and confirmed that roughly twice as much hydrogen is escaping as oxygen. It is therefore believed that water is the source of these escaping ions. It has also shown that a heavy form of hydrogen, called deuterium, is progressively enriched in the upper echelons of Venus's atmosphere, because the heavier hydrogen will find it less easy to escape the planet's grip.
"Everything points to there being large amounts of water on Venus in the past," says Colin Wilson, Oxford University, UK.
Originally posted by jessieg
One day maybe some intelligence will look at Earth and say the same thing. The way we are destroying the Earth, it may be like that one day.
Originally posted by Phage
reply to post by monkeykillingmonkey
It took 4.5 billion years for an "advanced" civilization to develop on Earth. There has been multicelluar life on Earth for 1 billion years. 475 million years since land plants first appeared.
Mars formed at the same time Earth did. It may have had a bit of a head start because it could have cooled faster but the seas of Mars disappeared 4 billion years ago. Not much time for evolution to get very far.