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The interpretation is based on images taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera
"It's been predicted for a long time that you should find water close to the surface of Mars near the equator," Jan-Peter Muller,
Professor Muller's research includes:
Gobal environmental mapping and monitoring UK DEM creation using SAR interferometry Sensor modelling: high resolution optical sensors, SAR, LIDAR Feature Extraction: 3D mapping and modelling of urban areas including automated feature extraction Terrain Modelling at all scales using stereo data, SAR, interferometry, shape-form-shading and laser altimetry on Earth and other planets
Evidence for running water, including river channels such as those shown here can be seen on the surface of Mars, and there are frozen, icy polar caps, but there is no running water present today. The atmosphere of Mars seems to contain water. There are clouds and fog. These features suggest that there was water present near the surface at some time in the Martian past, and that water still cycles between reservoirs in the ground and atmosphere today.
). So surely after "millions" of years that soft ground would have eroded and not stayed looking as if the water was there very recently