December 05, 2012

Image of the Day: Ancient Cavern Systems of Mars –Possible Biological Habitats?

Possible caverns have been recently identified on Mars, and their existence has caught much scientific and public attention because of their potential as exobiological habitats. However, their age and dimensions remain uncertain. The discovery of vast caverns that existed in ancient periods of Mars shows that these habitats may have in fact existed during billions of years of the planet’s history.

An international research team led by the Planetary Science Institute has found evidence that indicates that approximately 2 billion years ago enormous volumes of catastrophic flood discharges may have been captured by extensive systems of caverns on Mars, said PSI research scientist J. Alexis Palmero Rodriguez. Rodriguez and the research team came to this conclusion after studying the terminal regions of the Hebrus Valles, an outflow channel that extends approximately 250 kilometers downstream from two zones of surface collapse. The Martian outflow channels comprise some of the largest known channels in the solar system.

Although it has been proposed their discharge history may have once led to the formation of oceans, the ultimate fate and nature of the fluid discharges has remained a mystery for more than 40 years, and their excavation has been attributed to surface erosion by glaciers, debris flows, catastrophic floodwaters, and perhaps even lava flows, Rodriguez said.

Read more: Image of the Day: Ancient Cavern Systems of Mars –Possible Biological Habitats? — Daily Galaxy.

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