PerspectiveAstronomy

Hydrated crust stores Mars' missing water

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Science  02 Apr 2021:
Vol. 372, Issue 6537, pp. 27-28
DOI: 10.1126/science.abh4469

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Summary

Mars is an arid and cold planet. Its surface water is found mainly as polar ice because of the low temperature. The amount of ice is far smaller than that of Earth's seawater by about three orders of magnitude. In a unit used in the community, the total volume is ∼20 to 40 m global equivalent layer (GEL). However, Mars exploration missions have found plenty of evidence for a large amount of liquid water that shaped the Mars landscape. Such evidence includes volley networks, paleo-shorelines, conglomerates, and hydrated minerals. The geomorphologically estimated volume of missing water is on an ocean scale, ∼100 to 1500 m GEL (1). On page 56 of this issue, Scheller et al. (2) report a theoretical modeling study to quantify the amount of hydrated minerals in the surface crust that stores water. This is possibly the largest sink of Mars' missing ancient water.

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