Scientists have discovered on the surface of Mars about two hundred long-dry river beds. The results of the analysis were surprising, since it turned out that these reservoirs differed in considerable depth and width, and they existed for a very long period of time. Thus, the mystery of the complete draining of the Red Planet becomes even more intricate and intriguing.
“We already have serious difficulties in determining how and why rivers and seas once appeared on Mars. And our discovery complicates the situation even more, because it turns out that deep and wide rivers continued to flow across the planet hundreds of millions of years after what is believed to be a complete desiccation, ”said Edwin Kite, an employee of the University of Chicago.
Disputes scientists in the matter of the history of water on Mars
In the course of the study of the fourth planet of the solar system, planetologists increasingly come to the idea that once very long ago it was really rich in water resources. There were rivers, lakes, there were even whole oceans, and the total volume of liquid was approximately the same as in our Arctic Ocean.
But not all experts share this point of view, considering that in ancient times Mars was not much different from its present state – just as frozen and dry. The third group of scientists does not exclude that water in the liquid version could be there, but only during volcanic eruptions and massive asteroid falls.
And not so long ago it turned out that there was simply a giant ocean on Mars, the water from which could cover the entire area of the planet at 140 meters. But where is he gone – a question over which scientists are now stubbornly thinking.
Everything is confused even more
The team of Edwin Kaite with their new research has complicated the task. The photographs of two hundred dry Martian rivers were studied in order to determine how fast the water flowed through them, what was their depth and width at different times.
The experts explained that these parameters show how the climate processes fed the rivers, as well as how they were stable. This information will open the door to understanding the history of the occurrence and disappearance of water bodies on Mars.
In order to find out, a simple method was chosen, consisting in a certain regularity, which is valid not only for Mars, but also for the Earth too. The point is this: the more water a natural artery carries, the more traces of sediment from pebbles, sand, clay and other sediments it leaves. By their thickness, structure, location and other characteristics, one can learn a lot about ancient rivers.
Having made the appropriate measurements, Kite and his colleagues were amazed: the ancient Martian rivers turned out to be much wider than the current earthly ones, and they transferred no less water. It is noteworthy that these rivers did not have many branches, what distinguished the rivers of our planet before the plants appeared.
The second point, which scientists have identified, is even more unexpected. According to the popular version of planetologists, 3.7 billion years ago, the climate on the Red Planet changed dramatically, which turned it into a lifeless, absolutely dry territory – the reservoirs completely evaporated. But the work of Edwin Kaite shows that even after this period the rivers continued to live rapidly for hundreds of millions of years, without losing the width and speed of the water. Surprisingly, there is evidence that rivers could occasionally appear in the last billion existence of Mars.
It should be understood that large volumes of water in the Martian arteries could pass only under the condition of a warm climate that allows the formation of both snow and rain. This is another big mystery, because the described is possible only with a dense atmosphere and a large amount of greenhouse gases.
From his scientific work, Kite concluded that practically nothing is known about the fate of the water resources of Mars. Planetologists, apparently, still have a tedious and long way to the truth.