Parched Mars river valley looks surprisingly Earth-like

Parched Mars river valley looks surprisingly Earth-like

Parched Mars river valley looks surprisingly Earth-like

The European Space Agency (ESA) released new images of Mars that prove the Red Planet's history of flowing water.

We see Mars as a cold, dry world, but plenty of evidence suggests that this was not always the case. Taken by the ESA's Mars Express satellite late previous year, the new Mars images show a system of valleys located in the southern highlands, just east of the Huygens impact crater and north of Hellas, which is the planet's largest impact basin, according to the ESA website.

Mars Express captured the image in November 2018 and ESA shared it on Thursday, saying it shows "clear signs of past water activity".

Instead, researchers said the atmosphere was wetter and warmer - meaning there could be a steady flow of water on the surface.

Topographic images of the region show that the water flowed from North to South (left to right), forming a valley width of about two kilometers and a depth of about 200 meters. It is located on the East of the large Huygens crater and to the West of the valley of Ellada.

Dramatic dried-up river channels over a mile wide and 198.12m deep have been detected on Mars, showcasing how the Red Planet once hosted liquid water at its surface.

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The Mars of today is a barren wasteland, but it was once awash in blue like Earth around 3.4 billion years ago.

"The valley system appears to branch out significantly, forming a pattern a little like tree branches stemming from a central trunk". Dendritic originates from the Greek word for tree, dendron, and seems to be an apt description as channels branch out from the central valley which later also split off on their journey outwards.

Earth also has its own dendritic water systems, such as the Yarlung Tsangpo river. This flow is thought to have cut through existing terrain on Mars, forging new paths and carving a new landscape.

Now, scientists are questioning whether the climate would have been able to support life - something the ESA said was the "topic at heart of the Mars exploration".

"Next year, ESA and Roscosmos will launch the ExoMars mission comprising a rover - recently named Rosalind Franklin - and a surface science platform". The rover would have the goal of drilling into the Mars surface in search for signs of life, be it past or present.

New evidence discovered by ESA thanks to its orbiter might help scientists boost the search for life on Mars. The next step that ESA together with global partners are considering is returning a sample of Mars to Earth - an ambitious task that will provide scientific treasures for generations to come.

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