Connect with us


Animated Map: Where to Find Water on Mars



Can I share this graphic?
Yes. Visualizations are free to share and post in their original form across the web—even for publishers. Please link back to this page and attribute Visual Capitalist.
When do I need a license?
Licenses are required for some commercial uses, translations, or layout modifications. You can even whitelabel our visualizations. Explore your options.
Interested in this piece?
Click here to license this visualization.

Animation: New Water Map of Mars

The hunt for water on Mars has always been a point of interest for researchers.

Earth has life almost everywhere water exists. Water is an ideal target for finding lifeforms, like microbes, that may exist on other planets.

And if Mars is to become a future home, knowing where water exists will be necessary for our survival.

Both NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have special instruments searching for water on the red planet. After 10 years of in-depth investigation, their latest findings suggest a new “water map” for Mars.

Where Did the Water Go?

Many people know Mars as a dry and dusty planet, but it hasn’t always been that way.

Approximately 4.1 to 3.8 billion years ago, Mars had a massive ocean called Oceanus Borealis. It dominated the northern hemisphere of the planet. Specific planetary conditions at that time let water exist on its surface. Changes in temperature, climate, and geology over the years gradually pushed water out to the atmosphere or into the ground.

Up to 99% of this ocean water is trapped within the planet’s crust, locked within special rocks called hydrous minerals.

Hydrous Minerals

Hydrous minerals are essentially rocks that have water (or its two main elements, hydrogen and oxygen), incorporated into their chemical structure.

There are four main classes of hydrous minerals: silicates, sulfates, silicas, and carbonates. While these minerals look pretty similar to the naked eye, their chemical compositions and structural arrangements vary. They are detectable by sophisticated equipment and can tell scientists how water geologically changes over time.

The new water map of Mars actually highlights the location of these hydrous minerals. It is a geological map of the rocks that are holding what remains of Mars’s ancient ocean.

Other Sources of Water on Mars

Despite being a “graveyard” for the bulk of the planet’s ocean, hydrous minerals are not the only source of water on Mars.

Water ice is present at both of Mars’s poles. The northern polar ice cap contains the only visible water on the planet, while the southern pole covers its water with a frozen carbon-dioxide cap.

In 2020, radar analyses suggested the presence of liquid water, potentially part of a network of underground saltwater lakes, close to the southern pole. In 2022, new evidence for this liquid water suggested that the planet may still be geothermally active.

More frozen water may be locked away in the deep subsurface, far below what current surveying equipment is able to inspect.

Mapping Out the Next Missions

The new water map is highlighting areas of interest for future exploration on Mars.

There is a small chance that hydrous minerals may be actively forming near water sources. Finding where they co-exist with known areas of buried frozen water provides possible opportunities for extracting water.

ESA’s Rosalind Franklin Rover will land in Oxia Planum, a region rich in hydrous clays, to investigate how water shaped the region and whether life once began on Mars.

Many more investigations and studies are developing, but for now, scientists are just getting their toes wet as they explore what hydrous minerals can tell us of Mars’s watery past.

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist
Click for Comments


Infographic: Investment Opportunities in Biotech

Capture the investment opportunities in biotech with the MSCI Life Sciences Indexes, which target areas like virology and oncology.





The following content is sponsored by MSCI

Infographic: Investment Opportunities in Biotech

With the world evolving at an unprecedented pace, nearly every sector is being disrupted in some way or another. 

In transportation, EVs were spearheaded by Tesla, which emerged as the first new American automaker in decades, and is now one of the world’s most valuable companies. Similarly, in the realm of AI, OpenAI has taken a leading position in large language models, demonstrating the immense potential of the technology.

Now, we turn our attention to biotech, an industry that is developing innovative treatments at an accelerated pace. In this graphic from sponsor MSCI, we explain the growing pipeline of biotech treatments, and why this could benefit investors.

Growth in Clinical Drug Trials

A clinical drug trial is a study performed on people to evaluate the effectiveness of a medical intervention. Since 2000, the number of trials initiated annually has grown by over 1,300%. 

Drug Trial Type2000201020202022
Monoclonal antibody606231,8331,685
Protein & peptide therapeutics1721,0581,7711,567
Recombinant antibody50513984860
Cell therapy56277548502
Gene-Modified Cell Therapy16148355423
DNA & RNA therapeutics756475346
Other biotechnology product28236362347

Behind every new treatment is an innovative company working to develop it. Thus, as the number of clinical trials grows, so too does the size of the investment universe.

Unfortunately, identifying suitable companies for investment is rather difficult. While a disease may have thousands of potential medicines, only one may ultimately receive FDA approval. This approval process can also take over a decade because treatments must pass several phases of testing.

Introducing the MSCI Life Sciences Indexes

To capture investment opportunities in biotech, MSCI has released a suite of thematic indexes that focus on key growth categories such as oncology and virology. 

Developed in collaboration with Royalty Pharma, the world’s largest buyer of pharmaceutical royalties, the MSCI Life Sciences Indexes are designed to gauge the performance of pioneering companies within the biotech space. 

These unique indexes can be used to benchmark growth, facilitate portfolio construction, and enhance investment research. 

Visual Capitalist Logo

Explore the MSCI Life Sciences Indexes now

Subscribe to Visual Capitalist
Click for Comments

You may also like


Continue Reading