At the moment, Mars is considered the most suitable planet for human life. It is in many ways similar to our native Earth: the surface is solid, the day lasts almost the same 24 hours and periodically there is a change of seasons.
Scientists are sure that millions of years ago between our planet and Mars there were even more similarities, such as the presence of water and living organisms. He has one snag – in time immemorial the sun was much weaker than it is now, and Mars was quite far from it and was not going to approach. It turns out that the planet was cold and there could not be rivers and oceans on it.
But how, then, can explain the presence of valleys and depressions on its surface, which were clearly formed as a result of the flow of water? Canadian scientists have started looking for an explanation for this mysterious phenomenon.
In the course of scientific work, they managed to put forward a theory that greatly changes the idea of scientists about the past of the Red Planet. Perhaps Mars looked like a giant snowball.
Millions of years ago, Mars was hardly a warm place
Water on Mars
The essence of the theory was published in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience . According to one of the study’s authors, Anna Grau Galofre , over the past 40 years, the scientific community has believed that irregularities on the surface of Mars were formed by the movement of rivers.
However, there are distinctive features between valleys and depressions in different regions of the planet. To find out what factors could affect the structure of the irregularities, scientists decided to find a place on Earth, the surface of which is as close as possible to the Martian landscape. However, researchers have long known about the existence of such a place.
Mars on Earth
One of the most Mars-like places on our planet is considered the uninhabited island of Devon, located in northern Canada. Almost all of its surface is a cold and dry desert. If you look at the island from a bird’s eye view or even from a satellite, you will notice that its surface is really very similar to the vastness of the Red Planet.
It is also full of all kinds of irregularities and scientists are well aware of how they were formed. Since Devon Island is a rather cold place, most of the rivers there flow under a layer of ice. Part of the ice sheet melted over time and the valleys left by the rivers are now clearly visible to us. In their structure, they are very different from the valleys formed by rivers that flow in the open.
So, scientists became aware of the distinctive features of the two types of valleys. Based on this data, they developed an algorithm that was able to quickly study photographs of 10,000 Martian irregularities.
Among them, the researchers found many valleys, which clearly formed under a thick layer of ice. Most of them were formed about 3.8 billion years ago. It turns out that once upon a time, although not all, but most of Mars, was covered with ice and snow. But scientists assumed that it was very similar to our blue-green Earth.
Life on Mars
If Mars really was covered with layers of ice, then the probability of the existence of living organisms on it increases markedly. The fact is that microorganisms could well inhabit the waters hidden under the ice sheet. And this shield, in turn, could perfectly protect them from cosmic radiation.
Indeed, the Red Planet has a very weak magnetic field, which is precisely what serves to protect against harmful radiation. So, despite the changes in the idea of the appearance and conditions of ancient Mars, the probability that at least primitive creatures lived on it remained. Maybe someday their traces will be discovered by devices like InSight and we will gain confidence that life on other planets can exist.
The computer algorithm created within the framework of scientific work will not disappear. According to the developers, it can be useful for studying the past of the Earth.
Technologies existing at the moment allow us to look at history no further than 5 million years, and a new algorithm can reconstruct the history of glaciations on our planet over the past 35 million years. It sounds intriguing, so we can only hope that new discoveries will not be long in coming.