Extraterrestrial hydrogeology

Subsurface water processes are common for planetary bodies in the solar system and are highly probable for exoplanets (planets outside the solar system). For many solar system objects, the subsurface water exists as ice. For Earth and Mars, subsurface saturated zones have occurred throughout their planetary histories. Earth is mostly clement with the recharge of most groundwater reservoirs from ample precipitation during transient ice- and hot-house conditions, as recorded through the geologic and fossilized records. On the other hand, Mars is mostly in an ice-house stage, which is interrupted by endogenic-driven activity. This activity catastrophically drives short-lived hydrological cycling and associated climatic perturbations. Regional aquifers in the Martian highlands that developed during past, more Earth-like conditions delivered water to the northern plains. Water was also cycled to the South Polar Region during changes in climate induced by endogenic activity and/or by changes in Mars orbital parameters. Venus very likely had a warm hydrosphere for hundreds of millions of years, before the development of its current extremely hot atmosphere and surface. Subsequently, Venus lost its hydrosphere as solar luminosity increased and a run-away moist greenhouse took effect. Subsurface oceans of water or ammonia-water composition, induced by tidal forces and radiogenic heating, probably occur on the larger satellites Europa, Ganymede, Callisto, Titan, and Triton. Tidal forces operating between some of the small bodies of the outer solar system could also promote the fusion of ice and the stability of inner liquid-water oceans.

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