Early Mars Was Covered In Ice, Not Free-flowing Rivers, Scientists Say

 - Sakshi Post

A new study found that there are more than 10,000 'Martian Valleys' on Mars scarring Red Planet's surface that was carved by water melting beneath glacial ice, not by free-flowing rivers. Researchers of Western and UBC used new techniques to investigate thousands of Martian valleys. The results effectively throw cold water on the prevailing 'warm and wet ancient Mars' theory that proposes rivers, rainfall and oceans once existed on Mars.

Grau Galofre said that "Forty years ago, the valleys of Mars have been first discovered, the presumption was that the rivers once flowed on the Red Planet, eroding and forming many of these valleys."

He further added that, "There are hundreds of valleys on Mars, and they look very different from one another. When you look from Earth through a telescope, you see a lot of valleys: some of them created by rivers, some created by glaciers, some made by other methods, and each form has a distinctive shape. Mars is similar in that the valleys appear somewhat different from each other, indicating that several processes have been in place to carve them."

Grau Galofre's hypothesis also helps clarify how the valleys should have been created 3.8 billion years ago on a planet that is further away from the sun than the Earth, at a time when the sun was less powerful.

Grau asserted that "We tried to bring everything together and bring forward a theory that had not really been considered, that the canals and valleys can form under ice sheets, as part of a drainage network that develops naturally under an ice sheet when the water is collected at the base."

Co-author Gordon Osinski, a professor in Western University's department of earth sciences and Institute for Earth and Space Exploration said that "The correlation between several Martian valleys and subglacial channels on Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic has inspired the authors to carry out a comparative analysis. Devon Island is one of the best analogs we've for Mars here on Earth, it's a dark, barren, polar desert, and glaciation is mostly cold."

Such habitats will also help improved living conditions for a possible ancient life on Mars. A layer of ice would offer more protection and stability of underlying water, as well as protection from solar radiation in the absence of a magnetic field, something that Red Planet once had, but which had vanished billions of years ago.

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