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A University of Colorado at Boulder research team has discovered the first definitive evidence of shorelines on Mars, an indication of a deep, ancient lake there and a finding with implications for the discovery of past life on the Red Planet.
Estimated to be more than 3 billion years old, the lake appears to have covered as much as 80 square miles and was up to 1,500 feet deep
An analysis of the HiRISE images indicate that water carved a 30-mile-long canyon that opened up into a valley, depositing sediment that formed a large delta. This delta and others surrounding the basin imply the existence of a large, long-lived lake. The lake bed is located within a much larger valley known as the Shalbatana Vallis.
"Finding shorelines is a Holy Grail of sorts to us," said Hynek.
In addition, the evidence shows the lake existed during a time when Mars is generally believed to have been cold and dry, which is at odds with current theories proposed by many planetary scientists, he said. "Not only does this research prove there was a long-lived lake system on Mars, but we can see that the lake formed after the warm, wet period is thought to have dissipated."
"On Earth, deltas and lakes are excellent collectors and preservers of signs of past life," said Di Achille. "If life ever arose on Mars, deltas may be the key to unlocking Mars' biological past."
Originally posted by TrueBrit
So there was a lake on mars ... Ok ... whats new. Anyone who ever saw a picture of the place knew there was going to be something like that . Tell me when they find a high rise parking facility and a Marsdonalds.
NEW EVIDENCE FOR THE SHALBATANA VALLIS PALEOLAKE, MARS, FROM THE HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGING SCIENCE EXPERIMENT (HiRISE).
These findings suggest that, at least regionally, clement conditions on Mars extended beyond the generally- accepted Noachian limit. Previously described older candidate deltas are highly eroded by aeolian deflation, which almost completely removed their fine and loose sedimentary fractions . In contrast, the Shalbatana fluvio-lacustrine deposits preserve some of the youngest and unambiguous indicators of a past standing body of water and potentially any signatures from putative biological activity, making them a high priority for a future landed mission to Mars.
Definitive Evidence For Ancient Lake On Mars
Di Achille said the newly discovered pristine lake bed and delta deposits would be would be a prime target for a future landing mission to Mars in search of evidence of past life. "On Earth, deltas and lakes are excellent collectors and preservers of signs of past life," said Di Achille. "If life ever arose on Mars, deltas may be the key to unlocking Mars' biological past."