Evidence for Precipitation on Mars from Dendritic Valleys in the Valles Marineris Area

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Science  02 Jul 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5680, pp. 78-81
DOI: 10.1126/science.1097549

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Dendritic valleys on the plateau and canyons of the Valles Marineris region were identified from Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) images taken by Mars Odyssey. The geomorphic characteristics of these valleys, especially their high degree of branching, favor formation by atmospheric precipitation. The presence of inner channels and the maturity of the branched networks indicate sustained fluid flows over geologically long periods of time. These fluvial landforms occur within the Late Hesperian units (about 2.9 to 3.4 billion years old), when Mars was thought to have been cold. Our results suggest a period of warmer conditions conducive to hydrological activity.

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