Published: Sat, March 30, 2019
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

Mars Had Rivers Wider Than Earth for Billions of Years

Mars Had Rivers Wider Than Earth for Billions of Years

Even throughout history, the Red Planet has been receiving only a third of the sunlight Earth receives now.

The study found that a vast network of rivers had flown across the planet for more than billions of years.

Dr Heggy said: "Groundwater is strong evidence for the past similarity between Mars and Earth - it suggest they have a similar evolution, to some extent.". "The largest river in our database has a width of around one kilometer [0.6 miles], which is wider than the MS at St. Louis", study author Edwin Kite, from the University of Chicago, told Newsweek. Also, in 2012, NASA's Curiosity space rover sent back pictures of smooth, round stones from the bottom of one such riverbed, their lack of rough edges proof that water had once streamed over them.

According to a new study by University of Chicago scientists, water-carved deep riverbeds into the Mar's surface, but what kind of weather is responsible for this, remains a mystery.

Scientists previously thought that the Martian atmosphere thinned out about 4 billion years ago, triggering a gradual drying out of the planet. Kite was the lead author of a study on Martian rivers published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

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A marked photo of a preserved river channel, taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, is shown below with color overlaid to indicate elevation (blue is low, yellow is high.) The range of elevation in the scene is approximately 35 meters. The main confusion while working on ancient climate modelling is because the planet wouldn't have had enough light to keep water warm enough for a liquid state, but evidence suggested that rivers have flown across the planet.

The researchers then calculated the amount of water running through them using multiple methods, including measuring the size of the Martian river channels. "This makes a hard problem even more hard". Rivers also exhibited strong flow until right before Mars' wet climate ended when it dried up nearly instantly.

"The next time we fly, we fly on Mars", said MiMi Aung, project manager for the Mars Helicopter. The runoff appeared to have been distributed globally, and was not a short-lived or localised phenomenon, the researchers said. It could also provide clues to what our own planet might look like if the Earth were to lose its atmosphere and/or magnetic field, as Mars has. That lasted right up until the end of Mars' more wet era, which ended around a billion years ago. The river flow was so strong that it flowed continuously, not just during certain parts of the day.

The riversshortened from thousands of kilometers to hundreds, but their powerful force remained.

It is possible the climate had a sort of "on/off" switch, which tipped back and forth between dry and wet cycles, Kite said. The new findings make scientists wonder which of the theories is wrong- the climate models, the atmosphere evolution models, or the basic understanding of inner solar system chronology.

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