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There was officially no water on Mars, which 'proved' the life detected by Viking in 1976 was just some 'chemical reaction'. This changed in year 2000.

Ancient lakes on Mars:

Picture of sediment layering were already taken by past missions, but recently much more detailed images were taken.

Mars Global Surveyor pictures released on November 4, 2000 show outcroppings on Mars that obviously cannot represent anything else than sedimentary layers formed by ancient lakes, further adding to the expectation that Mars was once very wet.

This is just one more evidence that the planet was perfectly suitable for life, and though there are still few scientists trying to find other explanation for all the evidence of past and present water, it is more and more difficult for them to provide one consistent explanation for such various evidence.

Mars lakes

The interesting fact is that the traces of lakes are quite widespread. This kind of sedimentation also relates to standing water, it implies that water flowing on Mars was not just sudden outburst of flowing water from under the ground.

A lake is not required to make sedimentary deposits. Wind, volcanic activity and even an asteroid impact could have similar effects. But the prevalence of the Martian sedimentary outcrops within basin-like features suggests that they were deposited by water, perhaps in lakes that formed within the craters and chasms, researchers said.

"Some of the MOC images of these outcrops show hundreds and hundreds of identically thick layers, which is almost impossible to have without water," said Malin, director of the Malin Space Center, the private NASA contractor responsible for MGS pictures.


Of course, as NASA itself predicted, there is strong opposition in parts of the scientific community, an opposition most irrational most of the time. A scientist for example is claiming that the images and article should be "rejected", "because it is nothing new". An absolutely amazing reaction, the images being real images from Mars, one can wonder what scientific significance a "rejection" is supposed to have.

Though older images already showed sedimentary layering, most scientists "rejected" them at the time, and requested more detailed images. Now that these more detailed images are provided, they reject them "because" they are "nothing new"?

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This page was last updated on March 3, 2001.