Photos Suggest Recent Flooding on Mars, Study Claims

A team of researchers studying photographs of Mars has found teardrop features that they say were sculpted by flowing water as recently as 10 million years ago. Evidence for water-carved channels on the Red Planet dates back to the 1970s Viking missions. More recently, the orbiting Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) probe has provided pictures that reveal what may be ancient river beds and sedimentary layers associated with lakes or oceans. Controversial evidence has emerged indicating more recent bursts of water flowing down ravines and crater walls. The newest study involves MGS images studied by scientists at NASA and the University of Arizona. The researchers examined a series of fissures that stretch more than a thousand kilometers (600 miles) across the lava-covered Cerberus Plains, just north of the Martian equator. The images show geologic evidence for catastrophic floods, the scientists said in a press statement issued today. Their work is detailed in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.