From: Brown University
Published October 17, 2017 11:36 AM

Study Shows How Water Could Have Flowed on 'Cold and Icy' Ancient Mars

For scientists trying to understand what ancient Mars might have been like, the red planet sends some mixed signals. Water-carved valleys and lakebeds leave little doubt that water once flowed on the surface. But climate models for early Mars suggest average temperatures around the globe stayed well below freezing.

A recent study led by Brown University geologists offers a potential bridge between the “warm and wet” story told by Martian geology and the “cold and icy” past suggested by atmospheric models. The study shows that it’s plausible, even if Mars was generally frozen over, that peak daily temperatures in summer might sneak above freezing just enough to cause melting at the edges of glaciers. That meltwater, produced in relatively small amounts year after year, could have been enough to carve the features observed on the planet today, the researchers conclude.

The study is published online in the journal Icarus. Ashley Palumbo, a Ph.D. student at Brown, led the work with Jim Head, a professor in Brown’s Department of Earth, Environmental and Planetary Science, and Robin Wordsworth, a professor in Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Palumbo says the research was inspired by climate dynamics found here on Earth.

Read more at Brown University

Image: Extensive valley networks spidering through the southern highlands of Mars suggest that the planet was once warmer and wetter, but new research shows that water could still have flowed intermittently on a cold and icy early Mars. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State University)

Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

2017©. Copyright Environmental News Network