Mars 500 Million Years Ago: Massive Flooding, Oceans Discovered Via Bedrock Analysis [PHOTOS]

By iDigital Times Staff Reporter on March 13, 2013 1:59 AM EDT

nasa mars 500
Devil’s Tower, Wyoming -- These images show examples of columnar jointing on Mars and Earth at the exact same scale. This is a photo of Earth. (Photo: NASA.gov)
mars 500
Marte Vallis, Mars -- These images show examples of columnar jointing on Mars and Earth at the exact same scale. This is a photo of Mars. (Photo: NASA.gov)

Mars—500 million years ago—was filled with water, so much so that the red planet had oceans. It's still unclear where the liquid water went or how it disappeared, but some scientists hypothesize that he water may have gone underground. Now, after finding signs of water in the form of streams and oceans, scientists believe that there's more evidence of water of Mars.

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"Science," the prestigious academic publication dedicated to science research, news and commentary, has published a study that reports undersground water bursting to the surface of Mars. The water is apparently violently emerging from the depths of the bedrock on Mars.

"Using radar imaging, a team of scientists tracked a series of channels buried under more recent features and have followed them back to the source," reports The Cleveland Leader. The imaging reveals that the main channel was about 40-kilometers wide and at least 70 meters deep. This is about the same size as features carved by the largest, well-characterized floods here on Earth." The instrument used for the study is called a SHARAD, and it's on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

Historic discoveries on Mars are being made at an incredible rate thanks to the plethora of new technology that's been made available to scientists. Among all the technology gathering information about Mars, perhaps none is more iconic than the NASA Curiosity rover.

NASA's Curiosity rover recently discovered that ancient Mars may have supported life at the microbial level. "Scientists identified sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus and carbon -- some of the key chemical ingredients for life -- in the powder Curiosity drilled out of a sedimentary rock near an ancient stream bed in Gale Crater on the Red Planet last month," reported NASA.

"We have characterized a very ancient, but strangely new 'gray Mars' where conditions once were favorable for life," said John Grotzinger, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. in a written satement. "Curiosity is on a mission of discovery and exploration, and as a team we feel there are many more exciting discoveries ahead of us in the months and years to come."

There's still plenty of data to collect about Mars, but it's worth acknowledging how thorough scientists are able to analyze the plnaet by using objects on Earth and otherwise remotely. It's still unclear whether humans will ever reach Mars, but it's certainly safe to say that the project to Mars is being pursued. In a document titled "Defining the Scope of Sensory Deprivation for Long Duration Space Missions," NASA scientists report at length about how humans may be sedated during a flight to Mars and what that type of sensory deprivation would do to the human body or mind. We especially enjoyed the entry on the "Mars 500."

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