Mars Global Surveyor Provides Evidence of Ancient Martian Oceans

By Keith Cowing
December 9, 1999
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Using data obtained by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter, an instrument aboard the unmanned spacecraft Mars Global Surveyor, researchers at Brown University and NASA have assembled a collection of evidence that points to possible remnants of an ancient ocean on Mars. These findings are reported in the 10 December 1999 issue of Science Magazine

According to a Brown University press release: “the team has found four types of quantitative evidence that points to the possible ancient ocean: the elevation of a particular contact (the border between two geological units, such as where one type of surface meets another) is nearly a level surface,
which might indicate an ancient shoreline; the topography is smoother below this possible ancient shoreline than above it, consistent with smoothing by sedimentation; the volume of the area below this possible shoreline is within the range of previous estimates of water on Mars; and a series of terraces exists parallel to the possible shoreline, consistent with the possibility of receding shorelines.”

° Press release from the Brown University research team

° Martian Geology and Climate, The Whole Mars Catalog

° Further news stories, The Whole Mars Catalog

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