Ancient river systems on Mars visible in peerless details

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — Researchers have spent decades searching for evidence of water on ancient Mars. As technology advances, there is growing evidence that rivers, lakes, and even oceans were once abundant on the red planet.

Modern Mars is icy and dusty, and it hardly has much liquid water on the surface, if at all. But billions of years ago, Mars was warmer and could have enough liquid water to support life. In fact, experts believe that Mars is one of the most likely places where we find evidence of extraterrestrial life.

A high-resolution satellite captured detailed images of a rocky Martian cliff, showing that it was formed by rivers more than 3.7 billion years ago. Around the same time that life began on Earth.

This was the first time that scientists were able to study these stones in close proximity.

Geologists Dr. Francesco Salese and William MacMahon of Utrecht University, the Netherlands, have been supported by an international team including Dr. Matt Balme at Open University and Dr. Joel Davis, Ph.D. in the Museum. Their findings are published in the journal Nature Communications.

Joel says: “We have never seen an outcrop with so many details that we can definitely say it’s so old. This is another piece of the puzzle in search of ancient life on Mars, giving a new understanding of how much water was on these ancient landscapes. ”

The team examined images taken by NASA as part of the High Resolution Visualization Science Experiment (HiRISE) from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft. Pictures were taken inside the huge impact crater of Hellas in the southern Martian hemisphere, one of the largest impact craters in the solar system.

Within the rock walls, a group of layered stones 200 meters thick is visible, shown in sufficient detail so that Joel and his colleagues can be sure that these are sedimentary rocks formed by running water. Rivers continuously grind their ravines, creating sandbanks.

The images also show that the river processes that formed these rocks took place over a very long period of time.

Joel explains: “The rivers that formed these stones were not a one-time event – they were probably active for tens and hundreds of thousands of years.”

This evidence gives hope that sedimentary rocks of this period may be ideal for seeking evidence of past life on Mars.

William McMahon, co-author of the article, says: “Here on Earth, geologists for several generations used sedimentary rocks to determine the conditions on our planet millions or even billions of years ago.”

“Now we have the technology to extend this methodology to another planet, Mars, which stores ancient records of sedimentary rocks that extend even further in time than ours.”


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