Scientists say Mars drainage basin may have
been enormous aquifer
U.S. Water News Online
TUCSON, Ariz. -- An ancient drainage basin found on Mars
may have once served as an aquifer nearly the size of Europe, a team
of University of Arizona researchers has concluded.
``We think it held water on Mars,'' said Victor Baker, head of the
university's department of hydrology and water resources. ``This
opens the possibility that maybe Mars at one time had life on it.''
The researchers gathered data from satellite images to construct
ancient topographical models of the region. The depression was made
by internal tectonic processes of the planet, Baker said.
``This means we have a better picture of how the planet evolved
through time,'' he said. ``Mars had a progressive set of changes that
has had water intimately associated with it.''
He said the basin has largely been filled by sediments and lava
flows accumulated over billions of years.
Baker said the idea of a big basin is interesting because
scientists haven't really considered it before.
Other evidence has suggested that Mars at some point had water
stored underground, but ideas regarding the manner in which water
storage and movement took place were speculative at best.
The discovery gives scientists a greater idea about the ancient
history of Mars and could also offer clues to the geological
development of Earth.
``We're finding aspects of Mars with interesting similarities to
the early history of Earth,'' Baker said. ``Mars is perhaps showing
us things about how the early Earth behaved.''
Baker said reaction to the hypothesis has been mixed, and some
skepticism is expected.
The research will be reported in the Journal of Geophysical
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