Photos gathered during NASA's missions orbiting Mars have revealed that the planet was once home to raging rivers - and that those rivers existed more recently than previously thought, according to a new study.
Satellite images and data from Nasa's Curiosity rover indicate that numerous rivers were twice as wide as those on Earth.
In a paper published today in Science Advances, researchers took multiple angles of the same rivers gathered together by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HIRISE camera. It is thought that they started to disappear less than one billion years ago. Right now researchers are trying to learn about the types of weather that kept driving those rivers, given that their understanding of the Martian climate is still not complete.
If the rivers had been brief or flowed only part of the time, it still would have been challenging to explain their existence. This also tells a lot about the shape and depth of the river.
During the study, the team examined over 200 beds of Martian rivers spread across the entire Red Planet.
A photo of a preserved river channel on Mars. What's more, these organisms could have been living for millions of years and if it can be proven that water remains beneath Mars' surface, then they could be living even up to now.More news: Calif. man gets 20 year sentence in fatal Kansas 'swatting' call
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Dr Heggy said: "Understanding how groundwater has formed on Mars, where it is today and how it is moving helps us constrain ambiguities on the evolution of climatic conditions on Mars for the last three billion years and how these conditions formed this groundwater system". That amount of sunlight is not enough for Mars to sustain so much liquid water, scientists say. Speculation suggests that early in the planets life when it had a thick atmosphere, the planet could have harbored life of some sort and scientists around the world are searching for proof of that. 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.
Water could be flowing deep underground around the equator of Mars providing ideal locations for future bases, a new study found. 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. "The wettest day of the year is still very wet".
The riversshortened from thousands of kilometers to hundreds, but their powerful force remained.
Dr Kite also speculated it is also possible the climate had an "on/off" switch, which tipped back and forth between dry and wet cycles.
"Our work answers some existing questions but raises a new one". "Which is wrong: the climate models, the atmosphere evolution models or our basic understanding of inner solar system chronology?"