Mars flooding: A team of researchers said they have located extensive underground tunnels caused by flooding.
Scientists on Thursday claim they have found underground, criss-crossing flood channels on Mars.
With NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the scientists used a powerful radar to look below the surface of the Red Planet, giving them the first evidence that there were underground tunnels created by apparent flooding, according to a press release from the U.S. space agency.
These channels, the release said, were caused likely by “catastrophic flooding in the last 500 million years.”
“During this period, Mars had been otherwise considered cold and dry. These channels are essential to understanding the extent to which recent hydrologic activity prevailed during such arid conditions,” the release added. At the same time, the floods might have also caused climate change on Mars.
“Our findings show the scale of erosion that created the channels previously was underestimated and the channel depth was at least twice that of previous approximations,” said Gareth Morgan, a geologist at the National Air and Space Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, who lead a study that was published in “Science Express” on Thursday.
He added, “This work demonstrates the importance of orbital sounding radar in understanding how water has shaped the surface of Mars.”
The channels are located in the Elysium Planitia plains located along the equator of Mars. The plains are also the site of the least-old volcanic region on the Red Planet.
Researches said the channels were not detected in the past because the area was covered by lava flow.
The team of scientists used the SHARAD radar to map buried channels.
“In this region, the radar picked up multiple ‘reflectors,’ which are surfaces or boundaries that reflect radio waves, so it was possible to see multiple layers,” Lynn Carter, with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center and who co-authored the paper, said in the release.
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