NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures ancient river beds on Mars

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured ancient river beds in the Aeolis Planum region, located near the Mars equator.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures ancient river beds on Mars
NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter captures ancient river beds on Mars. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/University of Arizona)

NASA’s JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory), which manages the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, shared the image on February 1, 2024.

The high-resolution camera of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, called HiRISE (High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment), captures these ancient river beds. This powerful camera is able to spot something as small as a dinner plate on the Mars surface.

NASA explained how these ridges were created. NASA wrote it as “River beds often get filled with gravel and the surrounding terrain is often built up of fine-grained mud from river overflows. After the river disappears, the fine-grained surroundings can be easily eroded away leaving the gravely river bed as a high-standing ridge.”

According to NASA, “the angle at which the ridges join together indicates that these rivers flowed from top-right to bottom-left (i.e., southwest).”

Habitable zone in the TRAPPIST-1 System vs. our Solar System
Here, green bands represent the habitable zone, and planet Mars is located on the outer edge of the habitable zone of our solar system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Many pieces of evidence show that planet Mars was habitable in the distant past when the temperature of the planet was just right to hold liquid water on its surface. Planet Mars is located on the outer edge of the habitable zone of our solar system.

Currently, the average temperature of Mars is -85°F (-65°C), which is too cold to hold liquid water on its surface.

The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) spacecraft has been orbiting the Red Planet since 2006. The spacecraft was launched on August 12, 2005, and inserted into Mars orbit on March 10, 2006.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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