Recent computer model simulations have dashed hopes that visible gullies observable on the Martian surface were created by water; the simulations indicated they were actually created by dry ice - Mail Online reports.
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The discovery of the gullies on Mars decades ago excited scientists since they thought these were made by liquid water which recently flowed on the Martian surface, but latest studies indicate these gullies could have been made by dry ice and not water as was earlier thought.
The team of scientists suggests that layers of carbon dioxide may have defrosted gas which had built up under Mars, leading to a rush-up of gas through the soil and forming the gullies.
“Martian gully land forms resemble terrestrial debris flows formed by the action of liquid water,” said Dr. Cedric Pilorget of Paris-Sud University of France.
“They have been interpreted as evidence for potential habitable environments on Mars within the past few millennia. However, ongoing gully formation has been detected under surface conditions much too cold for liquid water, but at times in the Martian year when a thin layer of seasonal CO2 frost is present and defrosting above the surface,” he said.
The amount of carbon dioxide layer of ice and the atmosphere were modeled by Dr. Pilorget and his colleagues via computer simulations revealed that CO2 ice may have passed through holes in the ice layer out of great pressure exerted on in the defrosting season.
The movement of gas up the Martian soil would cause surface materials to become unstable and lead debris filled with gas to start flowing on the surface, leading to the gullies.
The Martian gullies were first reported by Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli in 1888, describing them as channels. And the Mariner 9 in 1971 suggested oceans and rivers could have flowed on Mars before getting evaporated. And several landers sent there reported there was instances of water on Mars.
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Not convinced on how the gullies formed, researchers created computer simulations which now show that dry ice is the culprit behind the gully formations.