Mars is said to once be a habitable place. There has been speculation that Mars back then had water. Now there is a new study that shows running water may have caused changes on Mars' surface.
Scientists speculate how the deep canyons on Mars could have been formed. Mars is said to have water 3.8 billion years ago. At that time, the planet was mostly frozen then. As greenhouse gases accumulated, Mars has become barren as water disappeared.
Long periods of warm climate is said to have been experienced by Mars. These periods were around 10 million years long. Slowly this affected the planet, as the ice that covered Mars then slowly turned to water. This eventually gave way to running water which carved out the canyons of Mars as seen today.
Earlier it has been hypothesized that asteroid impacts have caused Mars to become warm. That would have produced much shorter warm periods, though, according to Penn State News. It would have been harder to produce water in such shorter periods.
Jim Kasting, co-author of the study and an Evan Pugh Professor of Geosciences at Penn State said that the only way water could have formed on Mars is to have millions and millions of years of warm periods. With asteroid impacts, those warm periods might have only been for thousands of years. He also said that the canyons on Mars could be as large as Colorado River Canyon. The Colorado River Canyon took 16 million years to form, and that would almost be the same amount of time the canyons on Mars would have formed.
Climate models have been used by the researchers to show how long it took for the landscape on Mars to form, as Science Daily reports. The greenhouse gases slowly accumulated over time, produced by volcanoes. Even with its warm periods, Mars is still cold. Less rain was there to replace the water. The planet then dried up over time.
Another ice age might come to Mars, though, as the volcanoes cannot return enough gases into the atmosphere. Further studies have to be done to test out that theory. Scientists are still finding out, in the meantime, if running water caused changes on Mars' surface. There is speculation though that Mars might have water beneath its surface.