Image Credit: Jurik Peter/Shutterstock

It is common knowledge that Mars used to run red with rivers. According to researchers, telltale tracks of previous rivers, streams, and lakes are visible all over the planet. Unfortunately, the once alive rivers had dried up about three billion years ago, and the reason is still unknown.

Edwin Kite, a geophysical scientist at the University of Chicago, shared his thoughts. His statement reads, “People have put forward different ideas, but we’re not sure what caused the climate to change dramatically. We’d really like to understand, especially because it’s the only planet we definitely know changed from habitable to uninhabitable.”

Kits is a well-known author of the first study that examines and analyses the tracks of Martian rivers to seek out the reason they can reveal the history of the planet’s water and atmosphere.

Before Kite, many scientists assumed that it was due to the loss of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, which helped keep Mars warm. But, according to the recent findings on May 25 in Science Advances, the change was caused by the loss of some other essential ingredients that maintained the planet warm enough for running water.

Unfortunately, the critical ingredient is yet unknown to humankind. Ironically, the planet is full of water, yet there isn’t a single drop to satisfy the thirst.

In 1972, NASA’s Mariner 9 mission captured pictures as it circled Mars from orbit. The photos were astonishing as they revealed a landscape full of riverbeds which is enough evidence that the planet once had plenty of liquid water, even though it’s dry as a bone today.

The ancient river tracks are still visible due to the lack of tectonic plates to shift and bury the rock over time. This became useful as it allowed Kite and his collaborators, including University of Chicago graduate student Bowen Fan as well as scientists from the Smithsonian Institution, Planetary Science Institute, California Institute of Technology Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Aeolis Research, to analyze maps based on thousands of pictures taken from orbit by satellites. Based on their track records, the team could piece together a timeline of how river activity changed in elevation and latitude over billions of years.

After doing multiple experiments, the team still isn’t able to find that specific factor, but there are many ways to narrow down the possible factors. Their hope is still there, and they are doing their best to seek out some plausible theory.

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Alice is the Chief Editor with relevant experience of three years, Alice has founded Galaxy Reporters. She has a keen interest in the field of science. She is the pillar behind the in-depth coverages of Science news. She has written several papers and high-level documentation.


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