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.
Click on image for full size
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.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
on science education, classroom activities in The Earth Scientist
specimens, and educational games
You might also be interested in:
This page is the start of the tour which explores water on Mars. Use the navigation button at the top of the page to move through the tour. To go to the next page, just press the forward link on the navigation...more
It was another exciting and frustrating year for the space science program. It seemed that every step forward led to one backwards. Either way, NASA led the way to a great century of discovery. Unfortunately,...more
The Space Shuttle Discovery lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on October 29th at 2:19 p.m. EST. The weather was great as Discovery took 8 1/2 minutes to reach orbit. This was the United States' 123rd...more
A moon was discovered orbiting the asteroid, Eugenia. This is only the second time in history that a satellite has been seen circling an asteroid. A special mirror allowed scientists to find the moon...more
Will Russia ever put the service module for the International Space Station in space? NASA officials want an answer from the Russian government. The necessary service module is currently waiting to be...more
A coronal mass ejection (CME) happened on the Sun early last month. The material that was thrown out from this explosion passed the ACE spacecraft. The SWICS instrument on ACE has produced a new and very...more
J.S. Maini of the Canadian Forest Service called forests the "heart and lungs of the world." This is because forests filter air and water pollution, absorb carbon dioxide, release oxygen, and maintain...more