Water on Mars? Salty Antarctic pond could reveal clues

  06 December 2017    Read: 443
Water on Mars? Salty Antarctic pond could reveal clues

A shallow, briny pond located in the most Mars-like region on Earth is probably being fed by groundwater seeping up, rather than moisture seeping down from the atmosphere, providing clues as to what stores of liquid water, if they exist, might look like on Mars, Fox reports.

The Don Juan Pond, found in Wright Valley among the McMurdo Dry Valleys in Antarctica, is one of the saltiest pools of water on the planet, even more so than the Dead Sea. Covering an area of about 330 feet by 985 feet (100 by 300 meters) but just 4 inches (10 centimeters) deep, the pond contains enough salt for the water to remain liquid even at minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 50 degrees Celsius), typical of temperatures on Mars.

In 2013, researchers suggested that the pond received its salty water from snowmelt and moisture condensing out of the atmosphere, with the water trickling downhill and leaving dark tracks. These tracks are reminiscent of the recurrent slope lineae (RSL) seen on Martian hills, which are thought to be formed by seasonal flows of salty water, although no such flows have ever been witnessed on Mars.

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