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The transition between Acidalia Planitia and Tempe Terra from the Mars Express High-Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC). Credit ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum)

More Evidence of Mars’ Watery Past

8 May , 2012

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ESA’s Mars Express orbiter has sent back images revealing terrain that seems to have been sculpted by flowing water, lending further support to the hypothesis that Mars had liquid water on its surface at some point.

The region seen above in a HRSC image is along the border of the Acidalia Planitia region, a vast, dark swath of Mars’ northern hemisphere so large that it’s visible from Earth.

In 1877 the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli named the region after a mythical fountain, where the three Graces of Greek mythology were said to have bathed.

Although there may not be any fountains or ancient Immortals within Acidalia Planitia, there may have been water — enough to carve serpentine channels and steep scallops along the edges of wide valleys, much in the same way that the Grand Canyon was carved by the Colorado River.

In the HRSC image some of the etched valleys extend outwards from craters, implying that they were created by water emptying out from within the craters. In addition, sediments present within older craters indicate that they were once filled with water, likely for an extended time.

Acidalia Planitia in a broader context. (NASA MGS MOLA Science Team)

With images like these, so reminiscent of similar features found here on Earth, it’s hard to discount that Mars once had liquid water upon its surface; perhaps some of it still remains today in pockets beneath the ground!

Read more on the ESA site here.

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squidgeny
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squidgeny
May 9, 2012 9:17 AM

lending further support to the hypothesis that Mars had liquid water on its surface at some point.

At this point it seems like the question is no longer of whether there was liquid water on Mars, but of how much there was.

Is there really still any doubt in the scientific community any more? I know there have been a couple of theories of how certain local formations might have occurred waterlessly, but none that I know of that rebut the idea of Mars once being a wet planet.

Jason Major
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May 9, 2012 6:45 PM
squidgeny
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squidgeny
May 9, 2012 8:28 PM

Interesting, thanks! I’ll save that for tomorrow’s office lunchtime smile

Torbjorn Larsson OM
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Torbjorn Larsson OM
May 9, 2012 8:53 PM

As such topic goes, a not entirely dry one…

tareece
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tareece
May 9, 2012 12:55 PM
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Alanator
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Alanator
May 9, 2012 9:44 PM

I look at this and see a resemblance to the east coast of U.S. Syntinskaya crater as N.Y. and you can imagine the rest! Pretty cool! 5km. deep oceans at one time???

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