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Beautiful new Mars images show where ancient rivers once flowed on the Red Planet

Mars had rivers dotting the landscape billions of years ago.
(ESA/DLR/FU Berlin)

Although we think that Mars is a dry and dusty wasteland, once contained huge amounts of water on the surface.

Recently released images from the European Space Agency (ESA) provide more evidence of the Red Planet’s previous incarnations under water on a warmer planet approximately 3.5 billion years ago.

The photos, taken by the ESA’s Mars Express satellite, shows an ancient region in the southern highlands of Mars is filled with craters that markers of flowing water. The space agency says the region’s topography suggests that the water flowed down from the north to the south, carving out valleys to 1.2 kilometres wide and 656 feet deep.

“We are seeing Mars as a cold, dry world, but much evidence suggests that this is not always the case. Research in the past few years instead of always indicates that the planet once a thicker, denser atmosphere, which was able to lock in much larger amounts of heat, and, therefore, is to facilitate and support the flow of liquid water on the surface below,” the ESA said in a statement.

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An artist’s impression of the planet Mars as the surface of water, a couple of billion years ago.
(ESO/M. Kornmesser/N. Risinger)

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It is still unclear, according to the scientists, where the water on the Red Planet came. The possibilities are: groundwater, rainfall or even melting of the glaciers.

A question that follows naturally from the discussion of water, Mars are suitable for life forms?

In search of an answer, next year, ESA and Roscosmos will launch the ExoMars mission consists of a rover – recently named Rosalind Franklin, and a surface science platform. The rover will drive around the planet and drilling under the surface, searching for signs of life.

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Meanwhile, the Red Planet landscape will continue to fascinate scientists and lead to widespread awe.

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