River water persisted on Mars much later than thought

Expose R2 in space

Expose R2 in space

But, the research did not provide a hint to anything about the ancient climate that might have persisted on the Red Planet.

However, researchers are having difficulties determining how Mars could have held liquid water with the extremely thin atmosphere it has today.

"Using multiple methods, we infer that intense runoff production [.] persisted until 3 billion years (Ga)", researchers write in the study.

In 2013, planetary scientists at the European Space Agency released 3D images shown above of the "striking upper part of the Reull Vallis region of Mars", which revealed a 932-mile-long (1500 kilometer) river running from the Promethei Terra Highlands to the vast Hellas basin. "The largest river in our database has a width of around one kilometer [0.6 miles], which is wider than the MS at St. Louis", study author Edwin Kite, from the University of Chicago, told Newsweek. In the river basins for which there are the most data, Mars' rivers were about two times wider than those on Earth.

If a clearer picture of Mars' climate history does emerge, it could have applications beyond Red Planet research, Kite said. Their study was published Wednesday in the journal Science Advances.

Skin-eating fungal disease annihilates 90 amphibian species
The study has also called for an urgent improvement into biosecurity and wildlife trade regulation to prevent more extinctions. According to researchers, virulent diseases such as chytridiomycosis contribute to the planet's ongoing sixth mass extinction.

Intense flow may have occurred in the river channels between 3.6 and 1 billion years ago, and even after that, researchers found.

Stargazers have always been obsessed with the question of whether there is life on Mars. Geological features show that the land had been sculpted by flowing water, while NASA's rovers collected evidence in support of an ancient wet climate-including a Martian rock with clay minerals.

To understand the history of water on Mars, geophysicist Edwin Kite of the University of Chicago and his colleagues pored over high resolution images of 200 ancient river systems identified on Mars, reports Mike Wall at Space.com.

Remotely controlling a helicopter from hundreds of millions of miles away, on top of Mars's thin atmosphere and freezing temperatures as low as minus 90C (minus 130F) at night, make flying such a device an incredibly hard technical feat. Now, stateside scientists at the University of Southern California (USC) have studied the streaks, and drawn a very different conclusion - that the dark marks were formed from underground water rising up, rather than streams of surface liquid. By measuring the steepness, width, and size of the rounded pebbles found in each canal, the researchers were able to learn more about how much water flowed through them and at what speed. But he says these rare and puzzling water flows on Mars are of big interest to the science community. Kite explains in a statement that climate models of ancient Mars need to include a strong greenhouse effect that would maintain an average temperature above the freezing point of water.

"You would expect them to wane gradually over time, but that's not what we see", said Dr Kite. "Which is wrong: the climate models, the atmosphere evolution models or our basic understanding of inner solar system chronology?"

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