What The FAQ: All about the mysterious water reservoir on Mars and how it was discovered

In today's FAQ, we try to understand more about the reservoir found recently as well as the water spotted during previous instances on this planet. 
Picture: Edexlive
Picture: Edexlive

Recently, Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, dispatched to Mars by the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian Roscosmos agency, found a reservoir on the Red Planet which is as big as Haryana. But this isn't the first time that astronomers or orbiters have found the presence of water on this planet. Earlier, in 2006, NASA had released photos depicting the presence of liquid water on Mars. Thus, forcing scientists and researchers to wonder if mankind can move to Mars and lead a life there as well.
In today's FAQ, we try to understand more about the reservoir found recently as well as the water spotted during previous instances on this planet.
How and when did the orbiter find a reservoir on Mars?
The Roscosmos ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, called TGO for short, that was hovering around Mars found a good amount of water in the heart of Mars' canyon system which led to the discovery of the reservoir. According to scientists, water found in Valles Marineris is hidden beneath the surface of Mars. On December 15, the European Space Agency said that the water-filled area is as big as the Netherlands and also covers the valleys of Chandor Chaos — part of the canyon system on this planet.
If you want to know the exact size, the reservoir measures around 45,000 square kilometers which is equivalent to the size of Haryana.

How is the new discovery of the reservoir going to help scientists and researchers?
The new discovery provides another location for astronomers to look for water apart from the polar regions on the planet, where water is found as ice. The spacecraft was mapping hydrogen, a measure of water content in the uppermost meter of Mars’ soil, when it came across the reservoir. The team of ESA says that the water spotted by the orbiter could either be in the form of ice or water which is chemically bound to other minerals in the soil. But observations from the previous years show that minerals seen on Mars can contain a lower amount of water
When did space research organisations find traces of water on Mars for the first time?
December 6, 2006 is the day when NASA released photos of two craters called Terra Sirenum and Centauri Montes which showed the presence of water which was in the liquid form at some point between 1999 and 2001. Later, hundreds of gullies were discovered that were formed by liquid water, especially in recent years.
What machines were used to take a closer look at the reservoir?
The Fine Resolution Epithermal Neutron Detector (FREND) telescope onboard the spacecraft revealed an area with a large amount of hydrogen in the colossal Valles Marineris canyon system. According to Igor Mitrofanov from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, TGO can take a closer look below the dusty layers and see what's going on below the surface on Mars and also, locate many water-rich oases which can be used by scientists or researchers to study later on.

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