Ancient Mars May Have Been Covered in Ice: Study

Several billion-years-old valleys on Mars may have been formed by glaciers and not flowing rivers, according to new study in Nature Geoscience.


NSFW    VANCOUVER — Several billion-years-old valleys on Mars may have been formed by glaciers and not flowing rivers. According to the new study in Nature Geoscience, ancient Mars was both colder and icier than prevailing theory supposes.

The team compared the red planet's valleys to Devon Island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Writing in a news release, co-author Anna Galofre says the island is "one of the best analogues for Mars on Earth."

The scientists' algorithms indicate that ancient glaciers produced channelized meltwater that cut valleys into the surface of Mars about 3.8 billion years ago. This process would explain the similarities between the valleys of Mars and Devon Island.

According to researchers, if the glaciers once existed, their ice sheets would have deflected solar radiation. This means ancient life would have had a better chance of surviving on Mars than previously thought.

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