TechMars reveals hidden reserves of metals in Mawrth Vallis Valley

Mars reveals hidden reserves of metals in Mawrth Vallis Valley

The Red Planet in the lens of the Mars Express probe.
The Red Planet in the lens of the Mars Express probe.
Images source: © ESA
Karolina Modzelewska

21 June 2024 09:09

The European Space Agency (ESA) announced that large quantities of iron, magnesium, and aluminium have been found in the Mawrth Vallis valley on Mars. This information comes from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) satellite data.

As ESA experts highlighted, the surface of Mars is rich in iron oxides and minerals containing this element, which contributes to its characteristic appearance, precisely its red colour.

Mars gradually reveals its secrets

However, thanks to advanced technology, we can now see more than iron on Mars. Cameras operating in different electromagnetic wavebands, such as the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS) instrument on the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter orbiting Mars, have detected additional elements.

These cameras have revealed that in the Mawrth Vallis valley on Mars, there are large quantities of other metals, not just iron. The images provided by these cameras show zones containing clay rich in magnesium and layers abundant in aluminium.

The Mawrth Vallis Valley attracts planetologists' attention for many reasons. In the past, water flowed there, making this area particularly interesting. Therefore, this region was chosen as the target site for the under-construction ExoMars Rosalind Franklin rover, which will complement the orbiter.

The rover's main task is to search for signs of life on Mars. The TGO orbiter has been orbiting Mars for six years, providing valuable data about the planet's surface.

During this time, TGO has provided detailed images of various formations on the surface of Mars, such as volcanic formations, enormous dunes, or so-called dust devils – whirlwinds that span several kilometres and lift dust.

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