Mars had an ocean millions of years ago, according to study

A new set of topographic maps showed that Mars It was not always like the frozen planet that recent research has shown us. These maps suggest that some time ago there was an ancient ocean in the north and that recorded hot temperatures in its environment.

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Benjamin Cárdenas, assistant professor of geosciences at Penn State and lead author of the study, explained that these maps “also tell us about ancient climate and its evolution. Based on these findings, we know that there had to have been a period when it was warm enough and the atmosphere was thick enough to support this amount of water liquid in a moment.

This research, added the professor, was carried out with the aim of understand if in Mars was there or was not an ocean in your northern hemisphere, an unknown that has worried the scientific community for a long time. To make the maps, the scientists used topographical data.

After several analyzess managed to show that there was a coastline of approximately 3,500 million years and that there was a substantial sedimentary accumulation, at least 900 meters thick. Cárdenas told what these results mean: “On Earth, we trace the history of waterways by looking at the sediments that are deposited over time. We call that stratigraphy, the idea that water carries sediment and you can measure changes in the Earth by understanding how sediment accumulates.”

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That study was taken by the researchers to Mars. On the red planet, the researchers used software, which was developed by the United States Geological Survey of the Pot, and a laser altimeter. They found that there were more than 6,500 kilometers of river ridges in this region.

Then, with the ridges identified, the researchers grouped them into 20 systems to show that they are likely eroded river deltas or undersea channel belts—that is, the remnants of an ancient Martian coastline.

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That area, where the ocean once stood, is now known as Aeolis Dorsa and contains the densest collection of river ridges on the Red Planet. “The rocks there capture fascinating information about what the ocean was like,” the researcher noted.

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According to the results published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets “the sea level increased significantly. Rocks were being deposited along its basins at an accelerating rate. A lot of changes were happening here.”

Researchers have succeeded in mapping for the first time what they have determined to be other ancient waterways on Mars, clues that will continue to contribute to the research advanced by NASA’s Mars 2020 mission.