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Scientists Claim, Underground Lake System Likely Existed On Mars

Researchers said flow channels, pool-shaped valleys and fan-shaped sediment deposits seen in dozens of kilometers-deep craters in Mars' northern hemisphere would have needed water to form.

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NASA
Example of features identified in a deep basin on Mars that show it was influenced by groundwater billions of years ago. (NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS) VOA

Scientists say images of craters taken by European and American space probes show there likely once was a planet-wide system of underground lakes on Mars.

Data collected by NASA and ESA probes orbiting the red planet provide the first geological evidence for an ancient Martian groundwater system, according to a study by researchers in Italy and the Netherlands published in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Francesco Salese, one of the scientists involved, said in an email Friday that the findings confirm earlier models and smaller-scale studies, and that the underground lakes may have been connected to each other.

NASA
Data collected by NASA and ESA probes orbiting the red planet provide the first geological evidence for an ancient Martian groundwater system. VOA

The notion of water on Mars has long fascinated scientists because of the possibility that the planet may have once harbored similar conditions to those that allowed life to develop on Earth. Patches of ice previously spotted on Mars provide tantalizing hints of a watery past for the arid world.

Researchers said flow channels, pool-shaped valleys and fan-shaped sediment deposits seen in dozens of kilometers-deep craters in Mars’ northern hemisphere would have needed water to form.

Co-author Gian Gabriele Ori said an ocean some scientists speculate Mars may once have had between three and four billion years ago could even have been connected to the underground lakes.

The researchers also saw signs of minerals such as clay on Mars that would have required long periods of exposure to water to form. Ralf Jaumann, a planetary scientist at the German Aerospace Center who wasn’t directly involved in the study, said such sites are a good starting point for future Mars landers to search for signs of ancient life.

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The researchers also saw signs of minerals such as clay on Mars that would have required long periods of exposure to water to form. Pixabay

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However Jack Mustard, a professor of geological sciences at Brown University who also wasn’t part of the study, questioned the paper’s claims, saying he didn’t see evidence of underground lakes in the data.

“But I am probably just a skeptical Martian,” he added. (VOA)

Next Story

Scientists Create Map of Wind Circulation in the Upper Atmosphere of Mars

Scientists map winds in Mars' upper atmosphere for first time

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Mars
The new map of Mars winds helps scientists to better understand the workings of the Martian climate. (Representational image). Pixabay

Using data from NASA’s MAVEN spacecraft, researchers have created the first-ever map of wind circulation in the upper atmosphere of Mars.

The new map of Mars winds helps scientists to better understand the workings of the Martian climate, giving them a more accurate picture of its ancient past and its ongoing evolution.

“The observed global circulation provides critical inputs needed to constrain global atmospheric models,” said Mehdi Benna of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“These are the same models that are used to extrapolate the state of the Martian climate into the distant past,” added Benna in the first paper published in the journal Science.

MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN mission) celebrated the five-year anniversary of its entrance into orbit around Mars on September 21.

Mission Mars
The winds observed in the Martian upper atmosphere are sometimes similar to what we see in global model simulations. (Representational image). Pixabay

The primary scientific goal of the mission is to study what is left of Mars’ atmosphere to determine how, in the distant past, an ocean-covered and potentially habitable Mars became the dry and desolate place it is today.

“The winds observed in the Martian upper atmosphere are sometimes similar to what we see in global model simulations, but other times can be quite different,” said Kali Roeten of University of Michigan.

“These winds can also be highly variable on the timescale of hours, yet in other cases, are consistent throughout the observation period, said Roeten in the second paper published in the Journal of Geophysical Research-Planets.

Upper atmospheric winds on Earth have already been mapped in detail.

Winds drive a series of processes in the atmosphere that can affect the propagation of radio waves, which are crucial for communications purposes for those on the surface, and the prediction of paths satellites will take in their orbit around Earth.

Mapping Martian winds, therefore, is a crucial step towards understanding characteristics of extraterrestrial atmospheres beyond what we know about processes on Earth.

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The upper atmospheric winds on both Earth and Mars are in the planets’ respective thermospheres, which are areas where temperature increases with height.

This discovery was the first detection of topography-induced gravity wave ripples in the thermosphere of any planet, even Earth. (IANS)