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Mars contains more oxygenated water than previously thought: Study

Water on Mars could hold more oxygen than previously believed, theoretically enough to support aerobic respiration, suggests a new research challenging traditional beliefs about the Red planet’s habitability.

A team led by scientists from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), calculated that if liquid water exists on Mars, it could — under specific conditions — contain more oxygen than previously thought.

According to the study reported in the journal Nature Geoscience , the levels could even theoretically exceed the threshold needed to support simple aerobic life.

However, the finding runs contrary to the current, accepted view of Mars and its potential for hosting habitable environments.

Researchers have long dismissed the idea that liquid water on Mars might be oxygenated, given that Mars’s atmosphere is about 160 times thinner than that of Earth and is mostly carbon dioxide.

For the study, the team developed a chemical model describing how oxygen dissolves in salty water at temperatures below the freezing point of water. Then, they examined the global climate of Mars and how it has changed over the past 20 million years.

They found that, at low-enough elevations and at low-enough temperatures, an unexpectedly high amount of oxygen could exist in the water. Further, the locations of those regions have shifted as the tilt of Mars’s axis has changed over the past 20 million years. During that time, the highest oxygen solubilities have occurred within the past five million years. IANS

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