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The picture above shows the newly discovered dry lakes in the highlands of Mars. The deep canyon is located above the lakes and once flowed to the North. The area that was once full of liquid is colored black in this photograph.
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R. P. Irwin III and G. A. Franz, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution

Newly Discovered Martian Lakes and Canyon!
News story originally written on July 2, 2002

Scientists have found lakes and a river in the highlands of Mars. They don't contain any water, but they may show that the cold, dry planet once had a very different environment where liquid water flowed at its surface.

The research team, who are from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., has identified a large, dry lake within several impact craters. The lake is very long (1400 miles) and is about the size of the U.S. states Texas and New Mexico. Two smaller dry lakes were found in the area as well.

The scientists also found a flood channel leading away from the giant lake called Ma'adim Vallis. This is a giant canyon that is very deep. It has carved more deeply into the Martian rock than the Grand Canyon has carved into rocks on Earth.

These new discoveries may mean that Mars was once a warmer and wetter place than it is now, which allowed water to flow at the surface. If life did exist on Mars before the climate changed to be colder and drier, the research team recommends that the best place to look for evidence of past life would be at the bottom of the ancient lakes because this is where fossils would most likely be preserved.


Last modified August 6, 2002 by Lisa Gardiner.

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