A team of researchers from the Trinity College Dublin recently found a patch of land inside the ancient Mars valley that seems might have been flooded with water in recent past. While observing this, they recently pointed that the main reason for starting search for previous life forms on this beautiful Red Planet. These findings were recently published by Dr. Mary Bourke working at Trinity along with her colleague from Oxford University, Professor Heather Viles. Dr. Bourke says, “On Earth, desert dune fields are periodically flooded by water in areas of fluctuating groundwater, and where lakes, rivers and coasts are found in proximity. These periodic floods leave tell-tale patterns behind them. You can imagine our excitement when we scanned satellite images of an area on Mars and saw this same patterned calling card, suggesting that water had been present in the relatively recent past.”
During the remote sensing study of the Numb Desert the researchers noted some patterns called “arcuate striations”, these are located between moving sand dunes. Fieldwork also displayed that such arcuate conditions were result of dune sediments that were cemented geochemically by the remaining salt post water evaporation. These dune sediment thus became static later which means these were left behind as the dunes expected to migrate with the downwind.
Dr. Bourne further adds, “”Following our work in Namibia, we hypothesize that on Mars, similar arcuate striations exposed on the surface between dunes are also indications of fluctuating levels of salty groundwater, during a time when dunes were actively migrating down the valley. These findings are of great significance. Firstly, the Martian sand dunes show evidence that water may have been active near Mars’ equator—potentially in the not-too-distant past. And secondly, this location is now a potential geological target for detecting past life forms on the Red Planet, which is important to those involved in selecting sites for future missions.”
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