The China National Space Administration (CNSA) has released new data from its Tianwen-1 orbiter and Zhurong rover. Some of them confirm the hypothesis that an ancient ocean once existed on the vast plain of Utopia.


Scientists analyzing the data found the presence of hydrated minerals in a “hard crust,” a hard mineral layer on the soil surface that typically forms as a result of groundwater evaporation. The researchers say the discovery proves that at some point during the last billion years there was «significant liquid water activity» in the region.

They also added «that the Martian soil has a high bearing capacity and low friction parameters,» indicating erosion due to wind, water, or both.

The hypothesis that an ocean of liquid water once existed on Mars is not new — recent climate modeling has also indicated the existence of such an ocean. Indeed, in the years before the arrival of the Zhuzhong rover, scientists even discovered massive deposits of underground ice under the Utopia Plain.

For now, Tianwen-1 and Zhuzhong will continue to surf Mars in search of evidence related to water and conduct other studies. CNSA said that its scientists are studying «the relationship between the density of rocks on the surface of Mars and the degree of its erosion, the distribution of ions and neutral particles in the near-Martian space environment and the gravitational field of Mars.»

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