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Mars: August 2020


A new study from The University of Texas at Austin is helping scientists piece together the ancient climate of Mars by revealing how much rainfall and snowmelt filled its lake beds and river valleys 3.5 billion to 4 billion years ago.

The Red Planet has fascinated humans for millennia, especially for the last few centuries, and particularly during the Space Age. The nagging suspicion of extant Martian life is both fed by, and drives the many space missions to Mars and recent detections of large, seasonal volumes of atmospheric methane have re-fuelled the discussion.

Insights and technology gleaned from creating a carbon-measuring instrument for Earth climate studies is being leveraged to build another that would remotely profile, for the first time, water vapor up to nine miles above the Martian surface, along with wind speeds and minute particles suspended in the planet's atmosphere.

A large number of the valley networks scarring Mars's surface were carved by water melting beneath glacial ice, not by free-flowing rivers as previously thought, according to new UBC research published today in Nature Geoscience.