The possibility of Life on Mars is a subject of significant interest to NASA due to its similarities to Earth. To date, no proof has been found of past or present life as we know it, however, recent advances suggest the Red Planet once flowed with water. The discovery means the planet may have once harvested life in conditions that were much warmer and wetter than today.
It was revealed during Amazon Prime’s “Spacefiles” series how one of NASA’s space probes captured evidence of the ancient remains where water may once have been found on Mars.
The 2004 series detailed: “The Mars Global Surveyor has revolutionised our view of the Red Planet.
“By bouncing back pulses of laser light from the surface it has mapped the contours of Mars.
“Here in false colour, red and white indicate highlands and lowlands are in green and blue.
The Mars Global Surveyor has revolutionised our view of the Red Planet
“The blue colours represent the deepest depressions, showing the remains of a huge impact.”
The series went on to explain how the remains of an ancient flood channel may be present in the images, too.
The narrator added: “Today it is too cold for water to flow on Mars, but it probably did when these peaks erupted.
“Rising from the depths, hot magma may have melted subsurface ice, unleashing vast quantities of water flooding the terrain.
“Beneath ash and lava to the east of Tharsis [volcanic plateau], the Global Surveyor has imaged an ancient flash flood channel, here in blue.”
The narrator even went on to claim it may have previously rained on the Red Planet.
He explained: “Mars abounds with evidence of floods and etchings of catastrophic outflows – this channel is three kilometres wide.
“Compared with the arid planet of today, early Mars may have been warmer and wetter – a great sea, called Oceanus Borealis may have filled much of the northern hemisphere.
“The reason may have been global upheaval with volcanic gases thickening the tenuous atmosphere – sending temperatures soaring.
“It may have even rained as eruptions melted subsurface ice, Mars could have flowed with water.”
Recent discoveries have all but confirmed these predictions.
In March, a study published in Science Advance claimed the Red Planet was covered in “intense rivers”.
This complicates the picture for scientists trying to model the ancient Martian climate, according to lead author Edwin Kite, from the University of Chicago.
He said: “It’s already hard to explain rivers or lakes based on the information we have.
“This makes a difficult problem even more difficult.”
However, he added that the constraints could be useful in narrowing the many theories researchers have proposed to explain the climate.
Seeking a better understanding of how Mars would have looked, Dr Kite and his colleagues analysed photographs and elevation models for more than 200 ancient Martian riverbeds spanning over a billion years.
The width and the steepness of the riverbeds and the size of the gravel suggest the force and volume of the water flow.
Their analysis shows clear evidence for persistent, strong runoff that occurred well into the last stage of the wet climate.
Dr Kite added: “You would expect them to wane gradually over time, but that’s not what we see.
“The wettest day of the year is still very wet.
“[It is possible] the climate had an on/off switch.
“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?”
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