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back to article New analysis points to ancient Martian ocean, river valleys

NASA-funded boffins say they have found convincing evidence that much of Mars was once covered by an ocean of liquid water, and that rain fell on the red planet long ago. The new research comes from scientists at Northern Illinois University and the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, who have done a new computer analysis …

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Coat

Cool!

Or rather, in those days, warm!

Regarding sea-monster and seamen skeletons, I suspect the possibility is strong that we'd find none, even is such entities did exist (which they most likely didn't, given the short time for non-microbial life evolving there). I suspect that Mars' low gravitational strength would make skeletons unnecessary. But who knows, that's not my area of Biology anyway.

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Boffin

Not to disparage this work

...but the presence of fluvial channels on Mars has been well-established since Mariner 9 discovered it in 1972. Not really news...

There IS some fascinating work underway on shallow low-latitude ice deposits - indeed you can see textbook lateral moraines in places with a bit of poking around on the online HiRISE data browser/viewer - not to mention Mallin / Edgett's classic discovery of contemporary gully formation on crater walls that shows features such as braided channels generally considered diagnostic of fluid (and presumably liquid) flows . If I know all this, why'm I lurking on El Reg? Well, with a degree in pure mathematics and another in planetary science, it was either that or back to the dole queue on Monday... </reference>

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Alien

Ok then...

So what exactly happened to the red planet? Was that the effect of some Martian global warming caused by alien Cadillac Escaldes? And where did they run off to!? More importantly, are we destined to be the next red planet, and can we go too?

So long and thanks for all the fish...

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One thing bothers me

There are areas of Mars that are heavily cratered, in the southern hemisphere. In fact, the first three Mariner missions to Mars were all fly-bys of the southern hemisphere. When Mariner 9 started transmitting images, as the dust storm subsided, scientists were shocked by four huge volcanos, Mariner Valley, etc.

Now, if those rains and oceans occured long enough in the past to case the erosion seen, would the cratered areas have remained so? Yes, they might have been deserts, but wind and weather patterns can change, and there might have been SOME rain there to go with 4.5 billion years of wind/dust erosion.

I'm sure they'll work it out, but it does make me skeptical.

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Silver badge

@AC 18:41

I think the idea is that its core solidified, it lost its magnetic field, and the solar wind stripped the atmosphere off. But I may be wrong ...

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Bronze badge

Where is he

Just when you need amanfrommars, he's nowhere to be seen.

It took about 3.5bn years for multi-cellular life to evolve on Earth, and almost 4bn for animal life (out of the roughly 4.5bn years that the Solar System has existed). So I doubt there's much chance of finding skeletons on Mars given that any life would have had much less time to evolve.

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Thumb Up

Journey Into Space

Will the young fellow I bet there WERE canals on Mars (in 1955) kindly forward the five shillings now.

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Black Helicopters

@AC 18:41

"So what exactly happened to the red planet?"

I'm thinking of creating a Web site where I explain how the same "galactic cycles" that the Mayans wrote about which will spell our doom in 2012 wiped out the Martian civilizations eons ago. I know somebody somewhere will believe it--hell, it might even make it into the papers (anyone know Michael Bay's phone number?)--but I'm not sure if that fact makes me amused or sad.

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Paris Hilton

Aw? C'mon now?

If they really wanted to open up the discussion it would seem reasonable to open up the AGU subscription (for the topic in question at least?)

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Paris Hilton

Martian canals (channels)? Anyone?

I wonder if there is/are any convergence with observed (but now quite widely discounted) martian canals?

Do these landforms converge at all with observations of channel like stuff made over the centuries?

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Happy

Madness Rules in Chaos 42 Create New Worlds to Order?*

"It took about 3.5bn years for multi-cellular life to evolve on Earth, and almost 4bn for animal life (out of the roughly 4.5bn years that the Solar System has existed). So I doubt there's much chance of finding skeletons on Mars given that any life would have had much less time to evolve." .... By Steven Jones Posted Monday 23rd November 2009 19:39 GMT

That would be one of those deadly accurate imaginative guesses, Steven, which creates universal facts from science fiction and applied metadataphysics.

* And only a Question to Invite One to Think about IT and the True Nature of Sanity ...... Organised Chaos in a Mad Mad Mad World. [ E =M3C2 ..... Eccentricity Equals Madness Cubed times Chaos Squared :-)]

PS ..... My first thoughts on reading Lewis's article on the new research scientists at Northern Illinois University and the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, was that they should cut down on the amount of Bud that they were smoking or drinking, but upon reflection I subsequently thought otherwise, for such as they do is valuable research supporting myriad industries and businesses. Joint entrepreneurial adventures which are criminally penalised in UKGBNI, and thus are its subjects condemned to be grounded and confined/virtually imprisoned in an old steam age imperialist environment,living on distant and gone past glories rather than building a life and infrastructures fit for future discoveries.

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Paris Hilton

@Franklin

You are Erich Von Daniken and I claim my five pounds.

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Bronze badge

Forgive my ignorance

But I thought Mars has a very thin atmosphere because it doesn't have enough gravity to support one like ours. Presumably that's always been the case, as its gravity would have been pretty much constant over its life.

So if it doesn't have much of an atmosphere, how can it form clouds (and hence rain)? Or is there some other way to get rain?

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Coat

So what exactly happened to the red planet?

The event that killed off a lot of earth life (including the dinosaurs) also happened on Mars around the same time. Earth survived. Mars did not.

Mine's the one with the Ben Bova's Mars novels in the pocket.

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Anonymous Coward

@alien anthropologist

Oh really? The dinosaurs went extinct 65 million years ago, and the currently most favoured theory is that a meteorite caused it. Mars is thought to have been wet till about 2000 million years ago, at best.

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FAIL

This planet is dead!

- No, it's resting!

And the fact that all the tests for any signs of life came up negative means...?

-We stunned it just as it was waking up!

These guys are so desperate to find life/water on Mars they will ignore all evidence to the contrary.

Go back to reading Asimov and stop wasting money.

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Martian Atmosphere

My understanding (which may darn well be wrong) is that Mars' atmosphere got thin because 1) Mars has less gravitation pull than Earth or Venus, so it didn't have as much to begin with; 2) therefore, it loses its atmosphere more quickly that Earth or Venus do; 3) when the core solidified, the volcanic/tectonic activity, which releases a lot of gas into the atmosphere, stopped replenishing the atmosphere; 4) the magnetic field got much less intense as well when the core solidified, so the solar wind blasted the atmosphere more; 5) western civilization polluted the air with poisonous CO2 from the Military-Industrial Complex (C) to keep women and minorities suppressed.

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