(ORDO NEWS) — Not far from the Martian crater Gale, traces left by water flows have been identified. Several billion years ago, there was a dense network of rivers flowing into the ancient ocean.
Elysium is one of the most extensive volcanic regions of Mars. To its south is Gale Crater, where the Curiosity rover has been operating for ten years.
And about a thousand kilometers east of the crater, sandwiched between two elongated highlands, is the Aeolis Dorsa lowland.
American geologists have reconstructed its ancient topography, confirming that once there was an ocean coastline.
Every year more and more information appears confirming that in the past, during the Noachian period of its geological history – 3.5-4 billion years ago – Mars was a fairly wet planet.
Not so long ago, scientists counted the remains of hundreds of lakes from that distant time. Now, geologists from the Pennsylvania State University have turned to the topography and mineralogy of the Aeolis Dorsa region.
They showed that the lowlands of the northern hemisphere of the Red Planet were washed by a vast ocean, and multi-meter layers of sedimentary deposits accumulated in Aeolis Dorsa.
The authors of the work – Benjamin Cardenas (Benjamin Cardenas) and Michael Lamb (Michael Lamb) – analyzed the data of orbital observations, finding more than 6,500 kilometers of remnants of river channels on them.
They managed to be grouped into 20 separate systems, which, apparently, belonged to different river deltas that branched and flowed into the northern ocean of the Red Planet.
According to geologists, this is the densest network of ancient rivers ever found on Mars. The thickness of sedimentary deposits there can reach 900 meters.
All this makes the Aeolis Dorsa region extremely promising in terms of searching for the remains of possible life on the early Red Planet.
“We were always looking for water, traces of life. And this is the most significant evidence at the moment, says Benjamin Cardenas.
“It was a huge body of water fed by rainfall that was carried down from the highlands, perhaps along with nutrients.
And if there were ebbs and flows on ancient Mars, they either raised or lowered the water level. This is exactly the place where ancient Martian life could have appeared.”
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