PASADENA, Calif., Oct. 12 (UPI) — U.S. researchers say they’ve determined the surface temperature of early Mars for the first time, evidence consistent with a warmer and wetter Martian past.
Analyzing a 4-billion-year-old meteorite that originated near the surface of Mars then was blasted into space to land on Earth, scientist at the California Institute of Technology determined that the minerals in the meteorite formed at about 64 degrees Fahrenheit, or 18 degrees Celsius.
“The thing that’s really cool is that 18 degrees is not particularly cold nor particularly hot,” Woody Fischer, assistant professor of geobiology, said in a CalTech release Wednesday.
Scientists have been debating the planet’s past climate and whether it once had liquid water.
“There are all these ideas that have been developed about a warmer, wetter early Mars,” Fischer said.
The Mars rovers and orbiting spacecraft have found ancient deltas, rivers, lakebeds, and mineral deposits, suggesting water in fact once flowed on Mars.
The new finding supports that, researchers said.
“It’s proof that early in the history of Mars, at least one place on the planet was capable of keeping an Earthlike climate for at least a few hours to a few days,” CalTech geochemist John Eiler said.