General, Research, Technology

What did Mars look like millions of years ago? New theory

At the moment, Mars is considered the mosta planet suitable for human life. It is in many ways similar to our native Earth: the surface is solid, the day lasts almost the same 24 hours and periodically there is a change of seasons. Scientists are sure that millions of years ago there were even more similarities between our planet and Mars, such as the presence of water and living organisms. He has one snag - in time immemorial the Sun shone much weaker than now, and Mars was quite far from it and is not going to approach. It turns out that the planet was cold and rivers and oceans could not exist on it. But how then can one explain the presence of valleys and depressions on its surface, which were clearly formed as a result of the flow of water? Canadian scientists have started looking for an explanation for this mysterious phenomenon. In the course of scientific work, they managed to put forward a theory that greatly changes the idea of ​​scientists about the past of the Red Planet. Perhaps Mars looked like a giant snowball.

Millions of years ago, Mars was hardly a warm place

Water on Mars

The essence of the theory was published in a scientific journalNature Geoscience. According to one of the study's authors, Anna Grau Galofre, over the past 40 years, the scientific community has believed that irregularities on the surface of Mars were formed by the movement of rivers. However, there are distinctive features between valleys and depressions in different regions of the planet. To find out what factors could affect the structure of the irregularities, scientists decided to find a place on Earth, the surface of which is as close as possible to the Martian landscape. However, researchers have long known about the existence of such a place.

See also: The most unusual natural phenomena on Mars

Mars on Earth

One of the most Mars-like places on ourthe planet is considered to be the uninhabited island of Devon, located in the north of Canada. Almost all of its surface is a cold and dry desert. If you look at the island from a bird's eye view or even from a satellite, you will notice that its surface is indeed very similar to the vastness of the Red Planet. It is also full of all kinds of irregularities and scientists are well aware of how they were formed. Since Devon Island is a rather cold place, most of the rivers there flow under a layer of ice. Part of the ice sheet melted over time and the valleys left by the rivers are now clearly visible to us. In their structure, they are very different from the valleys formed by rivers that flow in the open.

The surface of Devon Island is very similar to the Martian landscape

So, scientists became aware of the distinctivefeatures of two types of valleys. Based on this data, they developed an algorithm that was able to quickly study photographs of 10,000 Martian irregularities. Among them, the researchers found many valleys, which clearly formed under a thick layer of ice. Most of them were formed about 3.8 billion years ago. It turns out that once upon a time, although not all, but most of Mars, was covered with ice and snow. But scientists assumed that it was very similar to our blue-green Earth.

Above is the surface of Mars, and below is the surface of Devon Island.

Life on Mars

If Mars really was covered in ice,then the probability of the existence of living organisms on it increases markedly. The fact is that microorganisms could well inhabit the waters hidden under the ice sheet. And this shield, in turn, could perfectly protect them from cosmic radiation. Indeed, the Red Planet has a very weak magnetic field, which is precisely what serves to protect against harmful radiation. So, despite the changes in the idea of ​​the appearance and conditions of ancient Mars, the likelihood that at least primitive creatures lived on it remained. Maybe someday their traces will be discovered by devices like InSight and we will gain confidence that life on other planets can exist.

According to the new theory, 3.8 billion years ago Mars looked something like this

The computer created within the framework of scientific workthe algorithm will not be lost. According to the developers, it can be useful for studying the past of the Earth. The technologies available at the moment allow us to look at the history of no more than 5 million years, and the new algorithm can reconstruct the history of glaciation of our planet over the past 35 million years. It sounds intriguing, so we can only hope that new discoveries will not be long in coming.

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On the topic of Mars, I also advise you to read the material abouthow mysterious objects were found on its surface. In photographs, they look like human bones, but what are they really? You can find out the answer to this question in this material.