Smithsonian Air and Space Museum

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New 3-D Reconstructions Show Buried Flood Channels on Mars

3-D visualization of the buried Marte Vallis channels (Fig. 2)
3-D visualization of the buried Marte Vallis channels beneath the Martian surface.
Credit: Smithsonian Institution/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Sapienza University of Rome/MOLA Team/USGS

New maps of the subsurface of Mars show for the first time buried channels below the surface of the Red Planet. Mars is considered to have been cold and dry over the past 2.5 billion years, but these channels suggest evidence of flooding. Understanding the source and scale of the young channels present in Elysium Planitia—an expanse of plains along the equator, and the youngest volcanic region on the planet—is essential to comprehend recent Martian hydrologic activity and determine if such floods could have induced climate change.

The findings are reported by a team led by Center for Earth and Planetary Studies (CEPS) scientist Gareth A. Morgan, in a paper titled "3D Reconstruction of the Source and Scale of Buried Young Flood Channels on Mars." The paper was published in the May issue of the journal Science. CEPS scientist Bruce Campbell is one of the paper's co-authors. Learn more in this Smithsonian magazine blog post or this National Air and Space Museum press release.