Scientists Say Martian Rivers Existed For Billions Of Years

NewsScienceWater could be flowing deep underground around the equator of Mars Ben Gelblum

NewsScienceWater could be flowing deep underground around the equator of Mars Ben Gelblum

The study by scientists at the University of Chicago catalogued these rivers and found that significant river runoff persisted on Mars later into its history than previously thought. "The largest river in our database has a width of around one kilometer [0.6 miles], which is wider than the MS at St. Louis", study author Edwin Kite, from the University of Chicago, told Newsweek.

These findings suggest that climate-driven precipitation may have taken place on Mars even during the time that researchers think the planet was losing its atmosphere and was drying out.

Mars once had huge rivers wider than the MS that flowed intensely up until around one billion years ago, scientists discovered.

NASA's spacecraft have taken photos of hundreds of these rivers from orbit, and when the Mars rover Curiosity landed in 2012, it sent back images of pebbles that were rounded- sculpted at the bottom of a river.

Last year, researchers supported by the Italian Space Agency detected the presence of a deep-water lake on Mars under its south polar ice caps.

Satellite images and data from Nasa's Curiosity rover indicate that numerous rivers were twice as wide as those on Earth.

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Riverbeds were carved deep into the Martian surface long ago, but the understanding of the climate billions of years ago remains incomplete. For instance, the width and steepness of the riverbeds and the size of the gravel tell scientists regarding the force of the water stream, and the amount of the gravel constrains the volume of water coming through. But he says these rare and puzzling water flows on Mars are of big interest to the science community. "The fact that this paper and others confirm an early active hydrological cycle on Mars demonstrate how little we know about the evolution of the Martian climate, and even more importantly, the evolution of its habitability".

"The need for a strong greenhouse effect is clear". Kite was the lead author of a study on Martian rivers published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

For those trying to understand Mars's ancient climate, the results provide guidance, Kite said, noting that the size of the rivers implies that water flowed continuously, not just at high noon. Rivers also exhibited strong flow until right before Mars' wet climate ended when it dried up nearly instantly.

Dr Heggy said: "We propose an alternative hypothesis that they originate from a deep pressurised groundwater source which comes to the surface moving upward along ground cracks". Rather, at the end of the Martian epoch, rivers became shorter, yet at the same time carried heavy runoff before - very quickly - vanishing.

"Gearing up for that first flight on Mars, we have logged over 75 minutes of flying time with an engineering model, which was a close approximation of our helicopter", Mars Helicopter project manager MiMi Aung, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said in a statement.

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