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
AUG 10, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Magnetic Field Changing Faster than Previously Thought
AUG 10, 2020
Earth's Magnetic Field Changing Faster than Previously Thought
The Earth's magnetic field is crucial for life on Earth. Generated by the molten iron core 3000 km beneath our plane ...
SEP 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Reusable Chinese Space Craft Lands Returns Earth
SEP 08, 2020
Reusable Chinese Space Craft Lands Returns Earth
The Chinese government has announced the safe return of a reusable spacecraft, called Chongfu Shiyong Shiyan Hangtian Qi ...
OCT 08, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
How much radiation do super flares emit?
OCT 08, 2020
How much radiation do super flares emit?
Research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill published in Astrophysical Journal contemplates the amount ...
OCT 09, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Ultra-hot Exoplanet Vaporizes Iron in its Atmosphere
OCT 09, 2020
Ultra-hot Exoplanet Vaporizes Iron in its Atmosphere
Researchers from the University of Bern in Germany have found that an exoplanet, known as WASP-121b, is so hot that it c ...
NOV 22, 2020
Space & Astronomy
Solar Power Stations in Space Could Answer Global Energy Needs
NOV 22, 2020
Solar Power Stations in Space Could Answer Global Energy Needs
W/hile renewable energy technologies have developed exponentially in recent years, a major barrier towards their adoptio ...
NOV 27, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
Gravity Affects Gene Expression
NOV 27, 2020
Gravity Affects Gene Expression
If people are going to explore deep space, we should learn more about the effects that such an environment would potenti ...
Loading Comments...