We know that, in its past, the rivers and oceans of Mars have been liquid water. But a group of researchers collected fifteen years of images to gather a complete map of the Southern Hemisphere’s river network. red Planet. The result is the largest mosaic on the Martian surface with 8 trillion pixels.
It took almost three years to piece together this immense puzzle, providing an unprecedented view of the ancient river systems that once covered the planet’s extensive plains. work, Published in this month Geology, Mapping three billion years old sedimentary rocks, helps to understand the hydrological history of Mars.
The deposition of sediments by large rivers led to the creation of catalog areas. The structures exist only in the Southern Hemisphere, where part of the oldest and most rugged terrain of Mars is located. The article’s lead actor Jay Dickson explains, “These crests probably used to occur all over the planet, but later processes buried or erased them.”
“The Northern Hemisphere is very smooth because it was stirred up, mainly by lava flows”, the researcher says. Woodward Fisher, the work’s co-author, says “the elevated regions of southern Mars” are some of the most flat surfaces in the solar system. “This extraordinary formation enabled sedimentary accumulation listed by researchers.
It is only possible to identify these river formations in a high resolution image of the planet’s surface. Each of the 8 trillion pixels represents 5 to 6 square meters, and the map covers almost 100% of the area for NASA’s satellites, which have been operating continuously for more than a decade.
Rebecca Williams, co-author of the study, recalls, “The first list of river ridges was made with data acquired between 1997 and 2006.” “These image strips provided interesting snapshots of the surface, but there was uncertainty about the lack of river ridges in the data gaps,” he says.
The high resolution of the new images solved this problem. Mapping allows researchers to explore data on a global scale rather than being limited to more fragmented and localized studies of Martian hydrology. “If you see only a small part [de uma crista]”You can guess how it was built”, says Dixon. “But then you look at it in a broader context and can more confidently determine which river ridges and ridges are formed by other processes.”
The data provided by the study could help in future explorations – whether by rovers or astronauts – in researching what Mars’s climate was like in the past. “We not only learned about the past of a planet, but also learned how the planets evolved and why the Earth is habitable,” says Fisher.