Google+ Mars Travel: Mars Photo of the Day - Apr 12 2012

Mars Photo of the Day - Apr 12 2012

Today's Image of Mars was taken by HiRISE in order to examine the topography of an area in Cerberus Fossae that is thought to be the source of liquid that flooded the surface long ago. Scientists have long speculated that the water erupted from a ruptured underground reservoir and flooded the area, but recently some scientists have speculated that the channels and other features associated with a flood could have been created by lava, and not water at all.

Click the image to see the original hi-res image from HiRISE
[See the original HiRISE caption]

The reason for this newfound speculation is that over top of the features carved by the flood lies a layer of lava. This leads some people to wonder if there was any water involved at all, since a flood of lava could have created similar features. 

The problem for scientists comes with proving either theory because the lava layer that coats all the features hinders our orbital intruments from determining what lies beneath. If underneath the layer of lava are sedimentary layers that would imply that water was involved, which deposited and compacted the sediments. However, if there are no sedimentary deposits then the "no water" theory would be given some credence since most large quantities of flowing water leave sedimentary evidence behind.

My vote goes for the terrain being carved by a flood of water, which retreated back under the surface or evaporated when the climate changed on Mars. The area then likely experienced volcanic activity and was covered by a large lava flow. But anything is possible, so its important to keep an open mind!

See All Mars Photo of the Day Posts!


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