Ancient Water Channels of Mars *Supportive of Planetary Life Cycle
March 8, 2013 in Outdoors
March 07, 2013
PASADENA, Calif. — NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided images allowing scientists for the first time to create a 3-D reconstruction of ancient water channels below the Martian surface.
The spacecraft took numerous images during the past few years that showed channels attributed to catastrophic flooding in the last 500 million years. During this period, Mars had been otherwise considered cold and dry. These channels are essential to understanding the extent to which recent hydrologic activity prevailed during such arid conditions. They also help scientists determine whether the floods could have induced episodes of climate change.
The estimated size of the flooding appears to be comparable to the ancient mega-flood that created the Channeled Scablands in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, in eastern Washington.
The findings are reported in the March 7 issue of Science Express by a team of scientists from NASA, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, and the Southwest Research Institute in Builder, Colo.
“Our findings show the scale of erosion that created the channels previously was underestimated and the channel depth was at least twice that of previous approximations,” said Gareth Morgan, a geologist at the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies in Washington and lead author on the paper. “This work demonstrates the importance of orbital sounding radar in understanding how water has shaped the surface of Mars.”
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“The spacecraft took numerous images during the past few years that showed channels attributed to catastrophic flooding in the last 500 million years. During this period, Mars had been otherwise considered cold and dry.”
Around 500 million years ago Triton begun transitioning to become Mars. As Triton approached the sun, the proto-earth expanded, causing its thick surface layer of ice to melt which produces catastrophic flooding, the results of which we see now on Mars.
Provided evidence is supportive of this *Original Astronomical Planet Infowars Discovery
“Mars clearly had a watery history, with strong evidence of flowing streams and even some indications that an ocean was present in the distant past. The fate of Mars’ water isn’t understood, but there’s evidence that some of it may have gone underground and is currently circulating in the bedrock of the red planet.
A study being released by Science finds further evidence that some of Mars’ underground waters have burst to the surface violently. Using radar imaging, a team of scientists has tracked a series of channels buried under more recent features and has followed them back toward the source. The imaging showed that the main channel was about 40 kilometers wide and at least 70 meters deep. That’s roughly the same size as the features carved by the largest well-characterized floods on Earth.
The work involved a radar instrument called SHARAD on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The radar can penetrate some surface features, revealing several layers beneath—depending on how they reflect the incoming radiation. This turned out to be extremely useful at the feature in question, Marte Vallis. It’s one of a number of features on the Martian surface that suggests catastrophic flooding, but it’s quite young at 500 million years old, long after water was thought to be common on the Martian surface. Unfortunately, studying it is complicated by the fact that it has been buried by an even younger feature: volcanic eruptions that make it difficult to even identify the source of the flood waters.”
“The authors note that the only confirmed flood feature of similar magnitude on Earth is also the largest we know of: the draining of Lake Missoula, which broke through a glacial dam and wiped out a lot of the soil of the eastern side of Washington during the last glacial period.”
“NASA has pieced together images taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to establish that Mars was subject to “catastrophic flooding” within the last half a billion years. The channels the great flood carved into the red planet are twice as big as previously thought, and suggest the flooding was of a similar magnitude to that which created the Channeled Scablands in eastern Washington, Earth. “This work demonstrates the importance of orbital sounding radar in understanding how water has shaped the surface of Mars,” said the study’s lead author, Gareth Morgan. The channels will also provide clues as to whether the flooding led to climate change on the planet.”