Evidence for Recent Liquid Water on Mars
3 2 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 24cm

Evidence for Recent Liquid Water on Mars

© Science & Society


Gully landforms proposed to have been caused by geologically-recent seepage and runoff of liquid water on Mars are found in the most unlikely places. They typically occur in areas that are quite cold, well below freezing all year round. Nearly all of them form on slopes that face away from sunlight. Most of the gullies occur at latitudes between 30 and 70. The highest latitude at which martian gullies have been found is around 70-75 S on the walls of pits developed in the south polar pitted plains. If you were at this same latitude on Earth, you would be in Antarctica. This region spends much of the winter--which lasts approximately 6 months on Mars--in darkness and at temperatures cold enough to freeze carbon dioxide (around -130C or -200F). Nevertheless, gullies with very sharp, deep, v-shaped channels are seen on the pit walls. The top layer appears to have many boulders in it (each about the size of a small house), these boulders are left behind on the upper slopes of the pit wall as debris is removed.

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