Scientists conclude heavy rain carved valleys on Mars

Valleys on Mars' early climate were the result of heavy rain.
By Karen Saltos | Jul 02, 2018
Scientists have long known that Mars has an intricate web of deep valleys. These valleys branch out from each other.

New findings by a team of researchers show that rainfall almost 4 billion years ago caused the deep channels on the surface of the Red Planet. This team from ETH Zurich and the University of Chicago says the rain created the channel networks.

In a new study published on the open-access website Science Advances, the investigators used similar structures on Earth as a model for examining the valleys on Mars. By looking at two datasets that other researchers collected while investigating the Martian valleys, the researchers concluded that the dryness of a region offers many clues as to what created the channels.

The angle at which the tributaries split off from each other was also significant. In places with harsh dry climates, such as the deserts of Arizona, the researchers found that rainwater sculpted the waterways of valleys.

The branches in these channels have markedly low angles. The channel networks on Mars resemble the narrow-angled valleys on Earth, which means rainwater created paths in the ground for it to flow through.

These findings led the scientists to conclude that a significant amount of rain that fell on Martian soil in the planet's early days. "Recent research shows that there must have been much more water on Mars than previously assumed," says physicist Hansjrg Seybold, lead author of the study.

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