Mars Flood Channels Revealed By NASA Radar

Mars flood channels were revealed by NASA using a radar on the Reconnaissance Orbiter. The channels are underground and could point to ancient mega-flood episodes.

Lead researcher Gareth Morgan with the Smithsonian Institution explained that the contributions of rovers and landers have helped understand Mars some, but that "our view of the red planet has largely been restricted to looking at the surface."

The first evidence of underground flood channels could help illuminate the role of water in Mars‘ history. The research offers a new perspective to Mars, whose surface already shows some evidence of past flooding, though the planet appears now to be cold and desert-like.

The channels also help scientists understand whether floods could have induced climate change on the Red Planet. The estimated size of the Mars flooding is comparable to the ancient mega-flood in eastern Washington.

The team used the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s Shallow Radar to map the length, width, and depth of the underground channels. The scientists were able to find evidence that suggests two different phases of channel formation. The scientists’ mapping also showed that the floods came from a now-buried portion of the Cerberus Fossae fracture system.