Was There An Ocean On Mars?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013 - 5:14PM
NASA
Astrobiology
Mars
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 - 5:14PM
Was There An Ocean On Mars?

New evidence suggests that rivers once flowed across Mars to empty into a huge ocean, one that could have covered much of the red planet's surface. The findings come from a team at the California Institute of Technology that used new hi-res images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to study a 100km square area of the planet's surface. Contained within this image are a series of ridges, known as inverted channels.

 

These inverted channels are formed when large, coarse materials are swept along and deposited at the bottom of a river. The images show these river channels fanning out, which has led to several hypotheses on their formation and destination. One of these theories is that the channels were flowing down mountain ranges to empty into one main arterial river. However, it is the notion that these smaller river systems actually emptied out into one vast body of water, such as an ocean, that has got scientists excited

 

What is fascinating scientists about this river delta is the lack of a physical boundary. River deltas have been discovered in the past, but all have been limited to a boundary created by a crater, suggesting they flowed, not into an ocean, but a lake. With data still being studied, debate will surely rumble on as to what it means, but don't be too surprised if you start seeing new artist's impressions of a very wet-looking Mars.

 

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Science
Space
NASA
Astrobiology
Mars