Mars Gullies Not Made By Flowing Liquid Water: Study

Posted: Jul 30 2016, 4:25am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

Mars Gullies Not Made by Flowing Liquid Water: Study
Martian gullies as seen in the top image from HiRISE on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter resemble gullies on Earth that are carved by liquid water. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UA/JHUAP
  • Mars Gully Hypothesis has No Solid Science to Back it Up

It is being surmised that the Mars gully hypothesis actually has no solid science to back it up.

Despite the fact that the gullies on Mars have gouged out large parts of the terrain, they probably didn’t have any liquid water running through them. This is the conclusion reached by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

This finding got published and it bolsters the fact that the Martian landscape is quite complex. The geological features are unique and many of the features got formed in ways that are hardly seen on our home planet.

Mars has been known as the Red Planet due to its rust-russet colored dusty landscape. It is literally said to be earth’s next door planet. Some have gone so far as to say that it could have once engendered puffs of clouds, large pools of liquid water and microbial life forms.

While nothing could be said with surety regarding whether all that existed so long ago on the planet, today we have a few clues as to how ancient Mars used to look like. NASA has sent three rovers titled Spirit, Opportunity and Curiosity on the Martian surface up until now.

All three have found some limited evidence of water once having flown through the canals of Mars. The Curiosity Rover even found evidence of a series of lakes having been extant on Mars and the conditions being favorable for supporting life.

Thus the proof of the pudding lies in the eating. Water was once common on the Martian surface. There may even be some of it hidden away in some crevice of Mars today. The briny water may make it to the surface even today. Yet, the many gullies have remained a mystery up until now.

They most certainly do appear to have been formed by water flowing through their channels. However, scientists say that actually dry ice was the likely agent which caused the formation of these gullies.

This dry ice consisted of large amounts of frozen carbon dioxide. Scientists speculate whether it was water snow or it was CO2 snow. The question does not have an easy answer. It is very difficult to properly gauge whether it was water or something else which formed these ancient gullies on Mars.

The gullies seem to have been formed thanks to chemical reactions. So the conundrum remains. Mars is not an easy nut to crack and it will take years to fully decipher the actual conditions that prevailed on its surface so many eons ago in the past.

The findings were published in Geophysical Research Letters.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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