Ancient traces of a giant ocean just discovered on Mars

(ORDO NEWS) — You are no doubt familiar with the dry and dusty appearance of Mars as it appears today, but scientists have found evidence that about 3.5 billion years ago, a huge ocean existed on the surface of the red planet, which probably covered hundreds of thousands of square kilometers.

This evidence is presented in the form of distinctive coastline topography identified in numerous satellite images of the Martian surface. When these images are taken from slightly different angles, a bump map can be built.

The researchers were able to map over 6,500 kilometers (4,039 miles) of river ranges apparently carved by rivers, demonstrating that they are most likely eroded river deltas or submarine channel belts (channels carved into the sea floor).

Ancient traces of a giant ocean just discovered on Mars
The bottom of Gale Crater, near a region called Aeolis Dorsa, which researchers believe was once a vast ocean

“The big novelty we did in this article was to look at Mars in terms of its stratigraphy and its sedimentary deposits,” says geologist Benjamin. Cardenas of Pennsylvania State University.

“On Earth, we map the history of waterways by looking at sediments that have been deposited over time. We call it stratigraphy, the idea that water carries sediment, and you can measure changes on Earth by understanding how sediment builds up. That’s what we’ve done here, but that’s Mars.”

Using data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter collected in 2007, the team applied ridge thickness analysis. , angles and locations to understand the area of ​​study: the topographic depression known as the Aeolis Dors region on Mars.

It is likely that significant changes have taken place in this part of the planet over the years. back, Cardenas explains. This is evidenced by evidence of a significant rise in sea levels and the rapid movement of rocks by rivers and currents. Today, Aeolis Dorsa contains the most concentrated collection of river ranges on Mars.

All this is connected with the search for life on Mars. One of the most fundamental questions scientists are considering about the red planet is whether it has ever had conditions favorable enough for life.

“What immediately comes to mind is that the most important point here is that the existence of an ocean of this size means a higher potential for life,” Cardenas says.

“It also tells us about the ancient climate and its evolution. Based on these findings, we know that there must have been a period when it was warm enough and the atmosphere dense enough to support that much liquid water at one time.”

The explorers don’t stop at the Aeolis Dors area.

In a separate study published in the journal Nature Geoscience , some of the same researchers, including Cárdenas, applied the acoustic imaging technique used to map the ancient seabed in the Gulf of Mexico to a model of how water could eat away at the Martian surface.

There are vast areas of what could be a river range and ll across Mars, and the team’s simulations are remarkably similar to the shape of the landscape on the red planet, suggesting there was once an extensive water cover.

We are seeing more and more signs that water was once abundant on Mars, and work continues to figure out what this could have led to and where this water is now, although looking back billions of years is not easy.

“If there were tides on ancient Mars, they would be here too, gently bringing in and out of the water,” Cardenas says. “This is exactly where ancient Martian life could have evolved.”

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