Illustration for article titled Martian River Was Carved By Lava, Not Water

A 168-mile-long channel near Mars' Ascraeus Mons volcano wasn't created by water as scientists have previously thought. New high-resolution images suggest that this trench was created by molten lava. What does this mean for the search for water on Mars?


Thanks to improved imaging techniques, Mars researchers noticed volcanic vents near the Ascraeus Mons ridge. According to Jacob Bleacher of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center:

We started seeing that, instead of this [liquid] cutting into an existing surface, it was building a surface-it built a ridge up to 40 meters [...] You see it all the time in volcanic settings. So that's kind of our smoking gun.


This doesn't mean that water-formed valleys don't exist on Mars, but it does mean that researchers will have to account for volcanism more when analyzing images of Martian topography. Want NASA to take a peek at a certain area of Mars? Submit your request to HiWish, a site where you can suggest which Martian landscapes NASA should photograph next.

[via National Geographic]

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