Researchers look for traces of Earth’s ancient oceans

Written by by CNN Staff

Having drilled millions of feet into the Earth to study life on Mars, this South African researcher now wants to explore water on Earth.

Professor Pamela Stein-Lustig, from the University of Cape Town, used data collected on Mars to learn that the water that once infused Mars is now being evaporated and scoured away by powerful winds.

“As water vapor hits the planet, it goes to the atmosphere and the atmosphere pushes it up in the atmosphere to the surface, but as the atmosphere goes down the water vapor evaporates back,” said Stein-Lustig.

She wants to do the same on Earth.

Stein-Lustig is using data from her exomoon data sets to investigate how water comes to the Earth’s surface from deep space. According to her, this is likely to have occurred in the early days of our planet’s history, when large sea levels were thought to have existed.

The team will drill down 5 to 10 meters. (18 to 25 feet) into the Earth to collect enough hydroxyl, oxygen, carbon dioxide and hydrogen to reconstruct the history of Earth’s atmosphere. They hope to drill down as far as 7.6 meters (28 feet) to learn more about the early ocean and how water came to be present on our planet.

Her work is being supported by the National Geographic Society.

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