Sponge-like Mars absorbed all water, making it uninhabitable
Mars was made uninhabitable when its surface water was absorbed into the planet's crust, Oxford scientists have concluded.
New research led by the university's Department of Earth Sciences provides insight into the subtle changes in planetary conditions that dictate whether life is possible.
The Red Planet was covered in water until around three billion years ago, but modern-day Mars is barren and dry.
However, a new study led by researchers at the University of Oxford suggests the water is still there, locked into the planet's surface. The scientists found that rocks on Mars were capable of holding about 25% more water than those found on Earth.
There has been longstanding interest in the potential for Mars to sustain life, with a specific focus on its water content. Now scientists want to extend the research across the planets.
Small chemical changes in a planet's composition could have a significant effect on its capacity to sustain life.
"These effects and their implications for other planets have not really been explored," said Dr Wade, who led the study published in the journal Nature.