Science

Rivers on Mars Formed Over a Billion Years Ago

Rivers on Mars Formed Over a Billion Years Ago”

The results show that numerous rivers-most larger and wider than rivers found on Earth-still had a strong flow 3 billion years ago, well into the period when the planet had begun to dry up and even as recently as 1 billion years ago. In the river basins for which there are the most data, Mars' rivers were about two times wider than those on Earth.

Looking for a superior comprehension of Martian precipitation, scientists analyzed photographs and elevation models for more than 200 ancient Martian riverbeds spanning over a billion years. "It's already hard to explain rivers or lakes based on the information we have", he said.

Scientists at the University of Chicago, in a new study, say they found evidence that suggests that not only did water once simply flow across Mars, but at times may have done so in powerful torrents. "We only required a 2-inch [5 centimeters] hover to obtain all the data sets needed to confirm that our Mars helicopter flies autonomously as designed in a thin, Mars-like atmosphere; there was no need to go higher".

Water flew intermittently - but very intensely - on Mars, for billions of years.

"To truly simulate flying on Mars we have to take away two-thirds of Earth's gravity, because Mars' gravity is that much weaker", according to Teddy Tzanetos, test conductor for the Mars Helicopter at JPL. The team was puzzled by an exciting detail since it seems that Mars became a desert at a surprisingly rapid rate.

Scientists have previously used electromagnetic echoes sent from radar-probing spacecraft orbiting Mars to search for water beneath the surface of the Red Planet. By measuring the steepness, width, and size of the rounded pebbles found in each canal, the researchers were able to learn more about how much water flowed through them and at what speed.

Their analysis shows clear evidence for persistent, strong runoff that occurred well into the last stage of the wet climate, Kite said. "The results provide guidance for those trying to reconstruct the Martian climate", he said. Kite explains in a statement that climate models of ancient Mars need to include a strong greenhouse effect that would maintain an average temperature above the freezing point of water.

The rivers show signs of shortening over time, but they still had strong flows until the tail end of the wet period, when the climate completely dried up.

"We have seen the same mechanisms in the North African Sahara and in the Arabian Peninsula, and it helped us explore the same mechanism on Mars", he said.

It's possible the climate had a sort of "on/off" switch, Kite speculated, which tipped back and forth between dry and wet cycles.

"It helps us to understand the similarities to our own planet and if we are going through the same climate evolution and the same path that Mars is going", Heggy said.



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