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Mars Science

Mars' Reull Vallis: a River Ran Through It 41

Posted by Soulskill
from the brad-pitt-passed-on-this-one dept.
Press2ToContinue sends this quote from a European Space Agency news release: "ESA's Mars Express imaged the striking upper part of the Reull Vallis region of Mars with its high-resolution stereo camera last year. Reull Vallis, the river-like structure in these images, is believed to have formed when running water flowed in the distant martian past, cutting a steep-sided channel through the Promethei Terra Highlands before running on towards the floor of the vast Hellas basin. This sinuous structure, which stretches for almost 1500 km across the martian landscape, is flanked by numerous tributaries, one of which can be clearly seen cutting in to the main valley towards the upper (north) side."
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Mars' Reull Vallis: a River Ran Through It

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    The pattern shows flowing liquid (probably water) but if the atmosphere produced rain then the surface would be covered in dendritic patterns. The glacial origin therefore seems pretty reasonable. IMHO.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You know what? Screw this story. Yes, yes. Rivers and all that. Delightful.

    I just realized that some day, some kid's gonna get to grow up a Martian from Reull Vallis Heights. Fuck that kid.

    -A Connecticutian in Plantsville.

  • by gpronger (1142181) on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:28PM (#42629935) Journal
    It would seem that the more we understand Mars, the much greater likelihood that at minimum primitive (single cell) life would have evolved. Given life here on Earth started within a billion years of creation, the similarities between the two, would seem to have been near identical. Initially, both would have had similar atmospheres, and formation of liquid water. It was very close here on Earth that life then developed.
    • Given even the relatively recent exchanges of material between Mars and the Earth, much less similar incidents in the past (including an asteroid impact that destroyed 99.9% of all species here on the Earth) I think it is very likely that the genuine origin of life, especially simple things like blue-green algae, may have even originated on Mars or at least it would be hard to declare where it happened. This only has to happen once every hundred million years or so to still be significant, and the K-T event (something capable of ejecting a piece of swamp and sending that to Mars) happened only 65 million years ago.

      If MER or some future space probe discovers actual life on Mars, I'm willing to suggest that the DNA would even be very similar to what is found here on the Earth and through DNA analysis you may even be able to find a common ancestor between that life and stuff found here on the Earth. It certainly couldn't be ruled out.

      • by gpronger (1142181)
        Agree. With the level of asteroid activity, that there would not be exchange of organic matter would seem to an unlikely event.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        What's with these fantasies about life coming from Mars?

        Earth didn't need help, it had all the raw materials, and in an environment without life, self-replicating chemicals would flourish. Saying "life came from outta space" just pushes the origin of life question a little bit - it doesn't answer it.

        • by cjsm (804001)
          Exactly. It's like looking at some random algae infested pond in the United States and speculating the algae were not native, but transported by air currents from the Antarctic coast. Ridiculous.
        • It's more likely that Earth life originated on Earth, but it's also possible it originated on Mars, and that possibility is more exciting to people than the obvious answer so of course it gets talked up.
          • by Teancum (67324)

            Of course life could have originated on the Earth and been transported to Mars as well. Or it could have even originated somewhere else entirely around a completely different star (the panspermia theory). This is hardly even a new theory and variants of it go back to ancient Greek philosophers.

            Why do you think the "obvious answer" is an abiotic origin to life here on the Earth? Perhaps so, but it isn't necessary and there are simply other possibilities too.

            Mind you I'm not talking "directed panspermia" t

    • by cjsm (804001)
      Those who say there are no Martians have never been to Mars.
    • by crutchy (1949900)

      yeah cos there's a proven correlation between the probability of life on mars and our understanding of mars

      i wish it were the case that if i understood my microwave oven well enough, i could use it to turn mushrooms into gold

  • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Friday January 18, 2013 @06:42PM (#42630079)
    It was not that long ago that the water flowed.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I thought TFA talked about how water stopped flowing during the Hesperian period or something, and was around 2-3ish billion years ago. The reason the impact craters don't appear in the stream bed is also in the article - that ice and debris flowed afterwards in glacial fashion down the river carving into the wall and floor of the existing bed. At least, that's how I read it.. I could be wrong and stuff.

    • by hb253 (764272)

      Every time I read about these Mars findings I start thinking about the time machine I'll never have.

      What a treat it would be to see it as it was.

      • Every time I read about these Mars findings I start thinking about the time machine I'll never have.

        What a treat it would be to see it as it was.

        Well... with faster than light travel, presumably if we fly far enough away and have a powerful enough telescope...

  • by TheGoodNamesWereGone (1844118) on Saturday January 19, 2013 @12:43AM (#42632141)
    Can we please stop with the "Mars once had water!" stuff? Mars had water once three billion or so years ago. It probably still has traces of it left, and there's possibly primitive life there. We're dicking around in LE-orbit, hitching rides from the Russians. Boots on Mars. Read it. Learn it. Understand it. Make it happen.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      You go first.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Of course there's no guarantee that getting boots on Mars will prove or disprove that there was or possibly is life there. Neither is it a necessary condition, we keep sending bigger and better rovers with more equipment that can do more. With Opportunity still running and Curiosity now operational we've had eyes on the ground uninterrupted since 2004 while I suspect a human mission would be a one-time stunt not to be repeated for decades.

  • "With all the meteor activity in this system, it's going to be difficult to spot approaching ships."
  • I see something interesting here. It looks like the river bed is free of craters. Its as if it was formed after the cratering period.

  • Europe had an express need to see what's going on over there from orbit. Hopefully, the Americans will show some curiosity and go check on site.
  • It looks like a glacier that's been covered in aeolian dust. Too straight to be a river valley.

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