Summary: By comparing satellite imagery of Mars and the arctic island of Svalbard, researchers have determined that water played a bigger role in shaping the landscape of Mars than previously thought. The study also indicates that environments capable of supporting life on Mars might exist.

Meltwater on Mars Could Sustain Life

Source: University of Gothenburg press release

Near surface water has shaped the landscape of Mars. Areas of the planet’s northern and southern hemispheres have alternately thawed and frozen in recent geologic history and comprise striking similarities to the landscape of Svalbard. This suggests that water has played a more extensive role than previously envisioned, and that environments capable of sustaining life could exist, according to new research from the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

Mars is a changing planet, and in recent geological time repeated freeze and thaw cycles has played a greater role than expected in terms of shaping the landscape. In an attempt to be able to make more reliable interpretations of the landscapes on Mars, researchers have developed new models for analysing images from the planet.

The process of analysing satellite images from Mars has been combined with similar studies of an arctic environment in Svalbard. Despite the fact that Svalbard is considerably warmer than Mars, the arctic landscape shows a number of striking similarities to certain parts of Mars.

One important common feature is the presence of permafrost and frozen subsurface water.

Read more: Meltwater on Mars Could Sustain Life — Astrobiology Magazine.

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