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Ancient Flood Channels Cut Deep Into Mars

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the high-water-mark dept.

Mars 46

astroengine writes "Relatively recently, water blasted out from an underground aquifer on Mars, carving out deep flood channels in the surface that were later buried by lava flows, radar images complied from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter probe shows. The channels are at least twice as deep as previous estimates for Marte Vallis, an expanse of plains just north of the Martian equator that is the youngest volcanic region on the planet. "We see similar channels elsewhere on Mars and they are not filled with lava so it's important to be able to compare different channel systems, and also similar systems on Earth, to give us clues about how they formed," lead researcher Gareth Morgan, with the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC, told Discovery News."

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46 comments

A slap (1)

Trogre (513942) | about a year ago | (#43114263)

to the first person who likens these to the erroneous "canals".

Re:A slap (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114569)

You know, I reckon these might be canals, that Maritans used to get water from the shrinking icecaps at the poles to the drying cities in the more temperate zones. What do you think?

Re:A slap (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43115211)

And that lava was probably from their rocket-ships taking off when they left the planet to colonize earth. I'm pretty sure I saw the ruins of Atlantis in one of those pics...

Re:A slap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115335)

Good thing there's no more free flowing water. It would kill the sandworms.

Re:A slap (1)

ulzeraj (1009869) | about a year ago | (#43120859)

I would kill to have some mod points to mod up this fellow AC who have read past the first book of Dune.

Re:A slap (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115541)

You know, I reckon these might be canals, that Maritans used to get water from the shrinking icecaps at the poles to the drying cities in the more temperate zones. What do you think?

I think every Martian will agree that weaponizing lava was a really bad idea.

Re:A slap (1)

Trogre (513942) | about a year ago | (#43121977)

Paf!

Re:A slap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114847)

Percival Lowell was right!

Relative Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114319)

Ancient.....Relatively Recently...

Am I missing something, how can you say 500 million years and then call this relatively recent? That description reeks of hyperbole.

Re:Relative Time (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114585)

They aren't talking relative to human history. They are talking about the geological history of Mars, which has several distinct periods that cover billions of years. And for that 500 million years is fairly recent.

If you don't like this phrasing, I strongly recommend you don't talk with geologists, planetary scientists, or astronomers. All of them would consider something that happened within the last 500 million years to be fairly recent.

Re:Relative Time (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43114977)

If you don't like this phrasing, I strongly recommend you don't talk with geologists, planetary scientists, or astronomers. All of them would consider something that happened within the last 500 million years to be fairly recent.

I wouldn't consider that to be "pretty recent", but that might be because I'm influenced by the geological history of Earth. We know quite a lot about it; it's been quite rich since then due to all that tectonic stuff, and the further you go back in time, the fewer traces of progressively more ancient history you find. That creates an information imbalance of sorts and although I do realize that numerically, 500 Ma is the last ten percent of the time line, it's still the most interesting part for us. I guess it's just psychological.

Re:Relative Time (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#43116149)

The words "ancient" and "recent" are basically antonyms.

Re:Relative Time (0)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about a year ago | (#43114635)

Am I missing something, how can you say 500 million years and then call this relatively recent?

Go talk to a geologist.

Re:Relative Time (2)

Squidlips (1206004) | about a year ago | (#43116733)

Nope; "recent" is correct. This is a major finding since previously it was thought that Mars was freeze-dried to a crisp 3-4 billion years ago. 500 million is recent on this time scale and a bit revolutionary.

Rain, rivers... (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about a year ago | (#43114357)

Mars looks like any earthly desert.

Re:Rain, rivers... (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43115003)

There are wadis to be found in earthly deserts.

Dinner! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114375)

Did anyone else read "Ancient Food Channels"?

Gold! (1, Funny)

Sterculius (2856655) | about a year ago | (#43114421)

Recently. So just a few weeks ago water was gushing all over Mars. When they are really ready for people ot populate Mars, they will claim to have found huge deposits of gold.

Bored with Mars (3, Interesting)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#43114447)

Am I the only person bored with the obsessive focusing on Mars by people desperate to find life? Maybe mars had life in the past but now its a dead dustball. There is more change of life in the ice moons of the outer solar system as they have oceans NOW. A few more missions to them and a few less to mars might be a better use of scientific resources.

Re:Bored with Mars (3, Insightful)

Wonda (457426) | about a year ago | (#43114489)

mars is nice dirt, you can dig in it etc, the icemoons are.. ice, so it's much harder to dig and there's nothing much to see on the surface, so they might just think it's too hard for now, even if you find a hole in the ice that just means you lost your robot :).

Re:Bored with Mars (1)

Viol8 (599362) | about a year ago | (#43114601)

The could still do radar mapping and on europa there seems to be some sort of ice tectonics happening which means any life may well be frozen into ice on or not far from the surface.

Re:Bored with Mars (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | about a year ago | (#43115329)

Mars is much cheaper to get to.

Re:Bored with Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114543)

If Mars had life and is now a 'dead dustball' then maybe something went wrong that would be useful for us neighbours to know about?

Re:Bored with Mars (3, Insightful)

SternisheFan (2529412) | about a year ago | (#43114675)

If Mars had life and is now a 'dead dustball' then maybe something went wrong that would be useful for us neighbours to know about?

The lesson is to never lose your protective magnetic field. That would be..., 'bad'.

Re:Bored with Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43118655)

Well, not to *permanently* lose it. The Earth has temporarily lost its magnetic field quite a number of times (when magnetic polarity reverses from N-S to S-N), to no detectable ill effect in terms of any correlation between reversals and extinctions. So, temporary loss is evidently ok. It's the long-term loss that seems to be 'bad'.

Re:Bored with Mars (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43114561)

There's always underground as well which may have a water environment that Earth bacteria can survive in today.

Re:Bored with Mars (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114903)

There's more to it than life. There was and still is water buried in the subsurface of Mars. If we ever want to visit another planet or Moon, Mars is going to be a lot more hospitable than, say, Europa, which exists in a deep gravity well (Jupiter), is surrounded by an intense radiation belt, takes a lot more energy to get to (or out of), and has effectively no atmosphere.

If there's no life on Mars, good. Then we can establish whatever life we want there.

Re:Bored with Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43116045)

Am I the only person bored with the obsessive focusing on Mars by people desperate to find life?

Hopefully.

Re:Bored with Mars (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43116187)

I suspect the reasons for this are:
1. Mars is the most Earth-like planet (other than Earth) we've encountered.
2. We don't really know how to land on Europa, Titan, etc. Mars, on the other hand, is a place we've been able to land on since the 1970's, and we now know how to land really sophisticated mobile probes to get really detailed looks at everything that seems interesting.
3. Mars is a likely target for eventual human colonization. It would help to understand the place as much as possible before we make the trip.
4. Mars is much much closer: If we launch at the right time, we can get there in as little as 8-9 months. Europa, on the other hand, is at least 6 times that distance.

But hey, I'm just a layman. I'm sure some professionals in the field could present even more compelling arguments.

Re:Bored with Mars (1)

Synerg1y (2169962) | about a year ago | (#43116249)

I don't think their water is like our water, but did anybody else think that the pictures might look like lava fissures rather than channels?

Re:Bored with Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43116471)

It could be full of life underground as well as areas like underground caves where pressure is high enough to allow liquid water to exist. It is not Mars fault that nasa keeps sending probes that never actually look for life. The last time we actually looked for life was with the viking landers.
Not even with curiosity they will be able to find life.

But yeah I agree that they should use way more resources on moons like Europa that seems to have liquid water oceans.
But why take funding from Mars that is already severely underfunded?? If you took just 2% of the military budget you would be able to afford both.

Re:Bored with Mars (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43116987)

Well, bored with this weird pop-science kind of approach "OMG we found water.. Gushing! Deep! Drenched!".. Maybe there's Life!

Yeah right.. It feels like the NASA dudes are afraid that the public will yank their funding unless they feed us a constant stream of interesting-sounding "soft science"..

Re:Bored with Mars (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about a year ago | (#43118341)

Europa is insanely hard to land on because you have to remove all the hardware once the mission is over to avoid contamination (he mission would also have to plutonium powered and you don't want to leave 10 pounds of that nasty stuff on the surface). Speaking of which, it would be insanely hard to sterilize a probe so that zero bugs are brought to Europa from Earth. And the probe would need extreme radiation hardening. Also you have to prevent the probe from melting the ice it is roving / sitting on. What makes more sense is an orbiting probe, but our President has nuked flagship planetary missions (except one last Mars mission).

Re:Bored with Mars (1)

Nyder (754090) | about a year ago | (#43121443)

Am I the only person bored with the obsessive focusing on Mars by people desperate to find life? Maybe mars had life in the past but now its a dead dustball. There is more change of life in the ice moons of the outer solar system as they have oceans NOW. A few more missions to them and a few less to mars might be a better use of scientific resources.

I'm not bored with it. This is what science is. You have to do a lot of boring work before you might, and just might, hit the big pay day.

Was there life on mars? We are trying to find out, have some patience.

sp0n6e (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114609)

perspect1ve, The [goat.cx]

Food Channels! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114627)

I knew there were ancient civilizations on Mars, I knew it! And Food Channels would line up nicely with the end of civilization. What? Oh, never mind.

Flood channels? Whaaaaaa?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43114793)

They definitely need to go check out the Thunderbolts Project research.

Global flood? (0)

ThisIsAnonymous (1146121) | about a year ago | (#43115049)

So there was a global, world wide flood? It was just on another world...you would think the bible would have mentioned that.

Mars Express (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115147)

What saddens me is that Mars Express was sent by the ESA and is orbiting Mars as we speak carrying RADAR for just this kind of thing (MARSIS). How many times have we seen their results in the news? I expect the next time there's a good idea for a Mars mission it'll struggle for funding because non-one remembers anything good coming from Mars Express. I'm sure there's plenty of really good science going on, but we never hear about it.

We just can't get our PR act together over here.

Re:Mars Express (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43121879)

What saddens me is that Mars Express was sent by the ESA and is orbiting Mars as we speak carrying RADAR for just this kind of thing (MARSIS). How many times have we seen their results in the news? I expect the next time there's a good idea for a Mars mission it'll struggle for funding because non-one remembers anything good coming from Mars Express. I'm sure there's plenty of really good science going on, but we never hear about it.

The MARSIS radar is too long a wavelength to be useful. They were warned before launch it wouldn't be good for sounding, but they didn't listen. SHARAD was launched later and at a decent frequency, the results have been amazing. This isn't the best image, [nasa.gov] but it should give you an idea.

We just can't get our PR act together over here.

Both project are international. SHARAD is being run out of Italy. This isn't some kind of us vs them bias. It's just that one instrument is producing better science.

Free Mars! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115309)

Free Mars!

Cheers to ok' Percival Lowell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43115713)

He must be spinning of joy in his grave.

Antonyms (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about a year ago | (#43116141)

>>Relatively recently
>>Ancient

Does not compute.

500 mya is "recent"? (1)

1u3hr (530656) | about a year ago | (#43116903)

>>Relatively recently
>>Ancient

For once, the Slashdot headline is actually more sensible.
You have to read three paragraphs of TFA to find that "relatively recently" means "500 million years ago". It's only "recent" in comparison to the other, billions of years old, water channels previously known.

any sign of frank chalmers? (2)

dnorman (135330) | about a year ago | (#43116235)

were there rover tracks beside the outbreak?

moD Down (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43117143)

a child kBnows a sad world. uAt
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