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Mars once had a vast underground lake system

Posted on Friday, 1 March, 2019 | Comment icon 7 comments

Mars Express has been orbiting Mars since 2003. Image Credit: ESA
Evidence of an ancient interconnected subterranean groundwater system has been discovered on Mars.
Mars may be a barren, arid wasteland today, but in its distant past it was a lot more like our own planet with its own rivers, lakes, oceans and - according to new findings based on data from the Mars Express orbiter - a vast planet-wide subterranean groundwater system.

"Early Mars was a watery world, but as the planet's climate changed this water retreated below the surface to form pools and 'groundwater'," said study lead author Francesco Salese.

"We traced this water in our study, as its scale and role is a matter of debate, and we found the first geological evidence of a planet-wide groundwater system on Mars."

The evidence is based on an analysis of two dozen enclosed craters in the planet's northern hemisphere that are situated 4,000 meters beneath what is thought to be martian 'sea level'.

The craters show evidence of water that may have risen up and receded over time, with a water level that may have aligned with the shorelines of a martian ocean 3-4 billion years ago.

"We think that this ocean may have connected to a system of underground lakes that spread across the entire planet," said study co-author Gian Gabriele Ori. "These lakes would have existed around 3.5 billion years ago, so may have been contemporaries of a martian ocean."

Future robotic missions to Mars should be able to take a closer look at these areas.

"Findings like this are hugely important; they help us to identify the regions of Mars that are the most promising for finding signs of past life," said Mars Express project scientist Dmitri Titov.

Source: | Comments (7)

Tags: Mars, Water

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by paperdyer on 2 March, 2019, 0:56
Could an underlying reason to send expeditions and probes to Mars is to see if we can somehow stop climate change or what the Earth may face in the distant future?
Comment icon #2 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 2 March, 2019, 2:25
Not really. The underlying reasons for current missions to Mars are to determine if it was ever capable of sustaining life, whether life actually arose and whether v it still exists there. However all knowledge is interconnected. Mars will probably not tell us how the Earth will be in the future, but it may tell us how it could have been if things had been different in the past. Such understanding of how climates evolve on other planets can only be helpful in understanding our own.
Comment icon #3 Posted by AllPossible on 2 March, 2019, 3:43
There was full blown Bass tournaments on Mars years ago...
Comment icon #4 Posted by fred_mc on 2 March, 2019, 9:14
When reading things like this, I'm always getting a bit sad that we are arriving on Mars 3-4 billion years too late. It would have been truly spectacular to see what it looked like back then.
Comment icon #5 Posted by qxcontinuum on 3 March, 2019, 2:49
Ok but these are known news since 1980's. I dont understand why Science is publishing discoveries older as 30 years. Two years ago I entered in to some serious debates on this forum by simply saying this very sam thing as I read from magazines my dad used to read in 85 And now I see it posted here
Comment icon #6 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf on 3 March, 2019, 10:10
No it wsn't known 30 years ago. As always you are confusing your lack of understanding with that of science. Time and time again your posts are full of false statements, such as the one above,  which only prove to demonstrate that you seem to be incapable of understanding the difference between what science SUSPECTS and what science can PROVE. To you they might be the same thing, but science relies on a very important thing called EVIDENCE.
Comment icon #7 Posted by qxcontinuum on 6 March, 2019, 4:57
  You are obviously too young to know such things. In fact if I search through posts I made over an year ago stating that Mars had water and was a known fact since 80's, you called me worse just to create a post one year later announcing old news. Relax my dear, itll be the same in the next 20 - 30 years. The obscure publications made by fameous space agencies will fade away in time once again and a new generation of rovers will rediscover these things again:)

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