We know that Mars’ rivers and oceans were liquid water in the past. But a group of researchers collected fifteen years of images to collect a complete map of the river network of the southern hemisphere. red planet. The result is the largest mosaic on the surface of Mars with 8 trillion pixels.
It took almost three years to put together this immense puzzle providing an unprecedented view of the ancient river systems that once covered the vast plains of the planet. work, published this month Geology, Mapping sedimentary rocks three billion years old helps to understand the hydrological history of Mars.
Sedimentation by large rivers has led to the creation of catalog areas. The buildings exist only in the southern hemisphere, where part of the oldest and harshest terrain of Mars is located. The lead actor of the article, Jay Dickson, explains: “These reefs probably appeared all over the planet, but later processes buried or erased them.”
“The northern hemisphere is very smooth because it was turbulent, mostly with lava flows,” says the researcher. Woodward Fisher, co-author of the work, says the “elevated areas of southern Mars” are some of the flattest surfaces in the solar system. “This extraordinary formation enabled the deposition of accumulations that the researchers mentioned.
These river formations can only be identified in a high-resolution image of the planet’s surface. Each of the 8 trillion pixels represents 5 to 6 square meters, and the map covers almost 100% of the area for NASA satellites that have been operating continuously for more than a decade.
Rebecca Williams, co-author of the study, recalls, “The first list of river reefs was made with data collected between 1997 and 2006.” “These imagery gave interesting images of the surface, but there was uncertainty about the lack of river reefs in the data gaps,” he says.
High resolution new images solved this problem. Mapping allows researchers to explore data globally, rather than being limited to more fragmented and localized Martian hydrology research. “If you only see a small part [de uma crista]“You can guess how it’s built,” Dixon says. “But then you look at it in a broader context and you can determine with more confidence which river reefs and reefs are formed by other processes.”
The data provided by the study could help in future research – whether rovers or astronauts – in researching what Mars’ climate was like in the past. “Not only did we learn about the planet’s past, but we also learned how the planets evolved and why the Earth is habitable,” Fisher says.