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Ancient River Channels Spotted In Martian Region, Evidence Of More Favorable Environment For Life

First Posted: Aug 24, 2016 05:34 AM EDT
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An extensive ancient river system has identified in a Martian region known as Arabia Terra. This provides evidence that the Red Planet was once streamed with water.

The study was printed in Geology. It was led by researchers from the University College London. The research was funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council and The UK Space Agency, according to Phys.Org.

Joel Davis, the lead author of the study from UCL Earth Sciences explained that climate models of early Mars predict rain in Arabia Terra and until now there was slight geological evidence on the surface to support this theory, which believed to be that Mars was never warm and wet but was a largely frozen planet, covered in ice sheets and glaciers. On the other hand, they have now found evidence of extensive river systems in the area which supports the idea that Mars was warm and wet, providing a more promising environment for life than a cold, dry planet.

The river channels are more than 10,500 miles (17,000 km). The team discovered the many systems of fossilized riverbeds, which are visible as inverted channels that are similar to those that can be found elsewhere on Mars and planet Earth. These are made of sand and gravel deposited by a river. When the river becomes arid, the channels are left upstanding as the surrounding material erodes.

Dr. Davis said that networks of inverted channels in Arabia Terra are about 100 feet (30 m) high and up to 0.6-1.2 miles (1 to 2 km) wide. They think that they are probably the remains of giant rivers that flowed billion years ago.

Meanwhile, Dr. Matthew Balme from the Open University and the co-author of the study stated that these ancient Martian flood plains would be great places to explore to search for evidence. He further stated that one of these inverted channels known as Aram Dorsum is a candidate landing site for ESA's ExoMars Rover mission, which will be launched in 2020 as noted by Sci-News.

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