From: Michael Reilly, Discovery News
Published June 19, 2009 03:40 PM

Mars Lake Held as Much Water as Lake Champlain

Nestled in a valley near the Martian equator, scientists have discovered the striking remnants of an ancient lake.

Though dry and frigid now, the traces it left behind hint at a water body younger than any other on the planet, and its sediments are a prime target for finding fossilized alien life.

When Mars coalesced billions of years ago it was much warmer, and probably wet. Features that appear to be eroded river deltas more than 3.7 billion years old dot parts of the planet's surface. Researchers have speculated they are evidence of lakes -- and primitive life may have once existed on the surface.


Now Gaetano di Achille and a team of researchers at the University of Colorado in Boulder have found an ancient shoreline ringing Shalbatana Vallis, a gash in Mars' surface just east of the massive volcanic province, Tharsis Rise.

They estimated from powerful images obtained using the powerful High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), that lake was 450 meters (1,476 feet) deep and nearly identical in volume to Lake Champlain in Vermont.

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