TNRTB Archive – Retained for reference information
Planetary scientists have found more evidence against Mars’ ever being inhabitable. Scientists have long known that Mars’ southern highlands formed more than 4 billion years ago and show no evidence of liquid water since that time. However, the northern lowlands were believed to have formed significantly later, possibly being reshaped by abundant liquid water. However, new observations by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter revealed a large population of visible and buried impact basins, which were then used to determine the age of the northern lowlands. The scientists concluded that the northern lowlands formed within 500 million years of Mars’ formation. This puts the lowlands’ formation before the end of the late heavy bombardment (a time when the inner solar system was bombarded with numerous cometary and asteroidal impacts), essentially precluding significant resurfacing by liquid water. Without abundant liquid water, the possibility of Mars’ suitability for life dramatically diminishes and Earth looks even rarer as a suitable habitat for advanced life.
- H. V. Frey, “Impact Constraints on the Age and Origin of the Lowlands of Mars,” Geophysical Research Letters 33 (2006): L08S02.
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