A team of scientists from University of Colorado at Boulder have said that they had found evidences of existence of ancient ocean on Mars. The findings, by Dr Bryan Hynek and Gaetano Di Achille, were published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
This vast ocean covered 33 percent of the Mars surface in northern hemisphere nearly 3.5 billion years ago and might have supported life. The scientists came to the conclusion after studying water related features such as river valleys and delta deposits.
The findings bring out similarities between present day hydrological cycle of Earth and that of ancient Mars. The oceans might certainly have provided and ideal ambience for microbial life. The physical features on Mars corresponding to ancient deltas and lakes may unlock Mars’ biological history.
The researchers mapped the Martian terrain taking help of a geographic information system, concluding that the planet once had 124 million cubic kilometers of water. They used topographical data sent by a laser altimeter on Mars Observer, a NASA spacecraft orbiting the planet.
One of the most pertinent question to answer now is where did such a huge volume of water go, said Dr. Achille. “The next mission to Mars in 2013 will try to understand how important the loss of gas from the atmosphere was for conditions on Mars,” he said, adding that “This will give us a better understanding of what happened to all the water 3.5 billion years ago.”
An earlier study had found more than 40,000 river valleys on the planet, roughly four times the existing estimate.