AUG 26, 2020 7:32 AM PDT

Planet-wide Rainstorms Created Lakes on Ancient Mars

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Researchers from the University of Texas have found that a huge amount of liquid water likely rained down from the skies onto Mars to form its now-empty lakes between 3.5 and 4 billion years ago. 

"This is extremely important because 3.5 to 4 billion years ago, Mars was covered with water. It had lots of rain or snowmelt to fill those channels and lakes," says Gaia Stucky de Quay, lead author of the study. "Now it's completely dry. We're trying to understand how much water was there and where did it all go."

While it is extremely difficult to model Mars' climate from so long ago, studies on both the planet's geomorphology and chemistry suggest it once held a lot of water both from rainfall and snowmelt. 

For the new study, the researchers examined 96 lakes and their watersheds on Mars from satellite images and typography. They were either classified as 'open basins', having been ruptured by overflowing water or 'closed basins', still intact and free from ruptures. Assessing the basins allowed the researchers to see how much rainfall and snowmelt were needed to fill them without being breached and see them overflow

Where the same river fed closed and open basins, the researchers could predict both the maximum and minimum rainfall that had fallen. As such, in just one rainstorm- which could have lasted from just a few days to thousands of years- the researchers estimated that precipitation could have been between 4 and 159 meters. 

Although the effects of water can be seen all over the planet, as some lakes were located in more arid regions, they likely received less water than the more humid areas. 

While the researchers say that their findings may help improve and test our climate models for Mars, they say that they are inconclusive by themselves. This comes especially when considering other research suggesting that these valleys were carved by icy glaciers and metwaters beneath ice sheets as opposed to running water. 

 

Sources: University of TexasScience AlertLabRootsGeology

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
OCT 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Astronomers Observe a Supermassive Black Hole Surrounded by Galaxies
OCT 08, 2020
Astronomers Observe a Supermassive Black Hole Surrounded by Galaxies
The Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory (ESO), an array of four individual telescopes in the ...
NOV 20, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
The Passing of a Neutrino Hunting Pioneer
NOV 20, 2020
The Passing of a Neutrino Hunting Pioneer
Masatoshi Koshiba, a revered Japanese physicist known for his groundbreaking work on cosmic neutrino detection, passed a ...
DEC 23, 2020
Space & Astronomy
It's Not a Quasar, It's a Blazar
DEC 23, 2020
It's Not a Quasar, It's a Blazar
This image is an artist's concept of what a blazar might look like, by NASA. Check out actual shots of the blazar in the ...
DEC 28, 2020
Space & Astronomy
China Willing to Share New Moon Samples
DEC 28, 2020
China Willing to Share New Moon Samples
China has recovered the first new moon rock samples in decades, and from a previously unexplored part of the moon. Now w ...
DEC 29, 2020
Space & Astronomy
How Do Spiders Behave in Zero Gravity?
DEC 29, 2020
How Do Spiders Behave in Zero Gravity?
The International Space Station (ISS) is a treasure trove of scientific intrigue. But it's not just life-saving drug ...
FEB 03, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Get Ready for the Red Planet: Perseverance Set to Land in Two Weeks
FEB 03, 2021
Get Ready for the Red Planet: Perseverance Set to Land in Two Weeks
NASA's Perseverance Rover will be reaching Mars soon and it will have to go through a seven minute descent before we kno ...
Loading Comments...