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Rivers existed on Mars 3.7 billion years ago, study finds

 Extremely high-resolution imagery allowed researchers to 'read' rocks on planet surface

Louise Hall
Tuesday 05 May 2020 23:15 BST
Creatures found deep beneath the sea give hope for life on mars

Researchers have used images to examine a portion of rocks on Mars and determine when the planet had water on its surface.

The new, highly detailed images allowed scientists to '"read the rocks" of the planet and find the first evidence that rivers existed more than 3.7 billion years ago, according to new research published in Nature Communications and first reported by CNN.

According to the images and data, water existed on the planet for 100,000 years, the broadcaster said.

Scientists used the imagery and topography captured by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera to study a crater rim of Mars in the southern hemisphere.

“It is not like reading a newspaper, but the extremely high-resolution imagery allowed us to 'read' the rocks as if you are standing very close to the cliff,” said Francesco Salese, study author, geologist and senior scientist at Italy’s International Research School of Planetary Sciences.

“Unfortunately we don't have the ability to climb, to look at the finer-scale details, but the striking similarities to sedimentary rocks on Earth leaves very little to the imagination.”

Researchers have long studied the crater because it's one of the largest in the solar system, stretching 5.6 miles, according to CNN.

In the images of the rim, ancient evidence of a large lake, rivers, deltas and channels can be seen in the rock.

By examining the images, researchers determined that ancient rivers stretched up to several meters deep, the report said.

Narrowing their search to the rim’s cliff faces, researchers discovered that the rivers were in some ways similar to those on Earth.

These were “rivers that continuously shifted their gullies, creating sandbanks, similar to the Rhine or the rivers that you can find in Northern Italy,” the researchers said in their study, according to the outlet.

The scientists are said to believe that the planet's water was driven by precipitation, much like rain on earth.

However, the rocks captured in the images only contain a small amount of time that water and sediment were being moved in the region, CNN reported.

They were said to have stipulated that other rocks that could present as measures of time could yet to be undiscovered or buried.

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