USGS Map of Mars

Candor Chasma in Mars’ Valles Marineris/  Image Credit USGS

The US Geological survey has just completed the most extensive geological map of Mars to date. Based on data collected by the HiRISE camera aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the new map offers details equivalent to that which the survey produces for users on Earth.

Based on the data, scientists have settled a long running debate over the source of small hills of sediments within the canyons of Valles Marineris, the 2,500 mile long rift valley which straddles the Martian equator. The explanation, like so much we are learning about the Red Planet, paints a picture of an ancient Mars achingly familiar to what we see today on Earth.

Where today we see a windswept,  dry and dead world in the Candor Chasma canyon featured in the video below, there once was a land of shallow spring-fed lakes.

Might there once have been life in those lakes? We won’t know until we go and see for ourselves.

As for the hills, they were apparently formed when a series of “Marsquakes” shook the region, forming the features out of wet sediments comprised of wind blown sands trapped by the lakes.

















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