This week NASA announced they had proof that water flows on Mars. Today an Irish scientist provided more proof – from parts of Mars that look like Irish landscape.
Dr Colman Gallagher, of the UCD School of Geography, and Open University planetary science researcher Dr Matthew Balme have identified eskers emerging from a degraded glacier in the Phlegra Montes region of Mars.
Dr Gallagher has been working on the project for the last 10 years.
Eskers are ridges of sediment similar to a dried-out river bed. They form only by sustained flows of liquid water underneath a glacier.
“They are very common in the Irish landscape,” Dr Gallagher said. “These things form when meltwater flows through conduits, essentially extremely large pipes within glaciers. Eskers are basically the sediment being carried by the meltwater flowing through these conduits. When the flows cease the sediments are deposited.”
So common are Eskers in Ireland that the word itself derives from the Irish for a ridge or elevation.
Dr Gallagher said the feature formed in the last 150 million years – an instant in geological history. This is referred to as the Amazonian period in Mars geological history and is the same climactic condition that Mars is still in.
“What we have shown is that for an extremely long time in the Amazonian, water has been produced and to a certain extent stable at the surface.”
The melting of the glaciers which caused the eskers to form was caused by a volcanic source under the ground. They were spotted when photographs sent back by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) were examined.