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
Lakes and a river have been found in the highlands of Mars. They wouldn't be good places for a swim because there isn't any water in them! But the scientists know that there was probably water there a long time ago. Even though Mars is a cold and dry place now, it was probably once very different.
The scientists found a big dry lake that once filled several craters. The lake is very large (1400 miles long). Two other dry lakes were found in the area as well. They are much smaller.
The scientists also found a canyon that leads away from the giant lake. It is called Ma'adim Vallis. This canyon is very large and 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, with water in lakes and rivers. If life did exist on Mars before it became colder and drier, the scientists think that the best place to look for fossils of past life would be at the bottom of the dry lakes.
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