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Research Reveals, Red Planet’s Rivers Were Wider Than Those On Earth Today

If the dates for these massive rivers are correct, the findings could suggest that Mars' late-stage atmosphere disappeared faster than previously calculated, or that there were other drivers of precipitation under low-atmosphere conditions, the researchers noted.

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In the river basins, for which there is most data, Mars' rivers were about two times wider than those on Earth. Pixabay

Mars’ rivers flowed intensely and may have persisted as recently as one billion years ago, reveals a survey that found that the red planet’s rivers were wider than those on Earth today.

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.

According to the study, published in the Science Advances journal, the runoff was intense and occurred at hundreds of locations on the red planet.

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The survey used image data of well-preserved paleo-river channels. Pixabay

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.

This complicates the picture for scientists trying to model the ancient Martian climate, said lead author Edwin Kite, Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago.

“It’s already hard to explain rivers or lakes based on the information we have. This makes a difficult problem even more difficult,” he said.

But, Kite said, the constraints could be useful in winnowing the many theories that researchers have proposed to explain the climate.

The survey used image data of well-preserved paleo-river channels, alluvial fans and deltas across Mars, and calculated the intensity of river runoff using multiple methods, including an analysis of the size of the river channels.

Atmosphere
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. VOA

In the river basins, for which there is most data, Mars’ rivers were about two times wider than those on Earth.

Between 1 and 3.6 billion years ago, and likely after 1 billion years ago, there was intense runoff in these channels, amounting to 3 to 20 kg per square metre each day.

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The runoff appeared to have been distributed globally, and was not a short-lived or localised phenomenon, the researchers said.

If the dates for these massive rivers are correct, the findings could suggest that Mars’ late-stage atmosphere disappeared faster than previously calculated, or that there were other drivers of precipitation under low-atmosphere conditions, the researchers noted. (IANS)

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New Study Indicates, Life on Earth May Have Begun in Ponds But Not Oceans

"Our overall message is, if you think the origin of life required fixed nitrogen, as many people do, then it's tough to have the origin of life happen in the ocean," s

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Nitrogenous oxides were likely deposited in water bodies, including oceans and ponds, as remnants of the breakdown of nitrogen in Earth's atmosphere. Pixabay

Challenging a common perception, a new study suggests primitive ponds may have provided a suitable environment for creating Earth’s first life forms, more so than oceans.

The findings published in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems showed shallow water bodies could have held high concentrations of what many scientists believe to be a key ingredient for jump-starting life on Earth: nitrogen.

ocean
Scientists believe there could have been enough lightning crackling through the early atmosphere to produce an abundance of nitrogenous oxides to fuel the origin of life in the ocean. Pixabay

“Our overall message is, if you think the origin of life required fixed nitrogen, as many people do, then it’s tough to have the origin of life happen in the ocean,” said lead author Sukrit Ranjan from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “It’s much easier to have that happen in a pond,” Ranjan said.

Nitrogenous oxides were likely deposited in water bodies, including oceans and ponds, as remnants of the breakdown of nitrogen in Earth’s atmosphere.

Atmospheric nitrogen comprises two nitrogen molecules, linked via a strong triple bond, that can only be broken by an extremely energetic event — namely, lightning.

Scientists believe there could have been enough lightning crackling through the early atmosphere to produce an abundance of nitrogenous oxides to fuel the origin of life in the ocean.

ocean
In the ocean, ultraviolet light and dissolved iron would have made nitrogenous oxides far less available for synthesising living organisms. Pixabay

But the new study found that ultraviolet light from the Sun and dissolved iron sloughed off from primitive oceanic rocks could have destroyed a significant portion of nitrogenous oxides in the ocean, sending the compounds back into the atmosphere as nitrogen.

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In the ocean, ultraviolet light and dissolved iron would have made nitrogenous oxides far less available for synthesising living organisms.

In shallow ponds, however, life would have had a better chance to grow, mainly because ponds have much less volume over which compounds can be diluted. As a result, nitrogenous oxides would have built up to much higher concentrations, the study said. (IANS)