nasa esa images water mars perspective view of nirgal vallis
This image from ESA’s Mars Express shows a dried-up river valley on Mars named Nirgal Vallis. This oblique perspective view was generated using a digital terrain model and Mars Express data gathered on November 16, 2018, during Mars Express orbit 18818. ESA/DLR/FU Berlin

Two new sets of images from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) have revealed more about the history of water on Mars. Scientists believe that billions of years ago, Mars had a thick, dense atmosphere that trapped heat and allowed liquid water to exist on the surface. They want to learn more about this period to see if there is any way that liquid water might still exist on the planet today.

Above is an image that was taken by the ESA’s Mars Express, a spacecraft in orbit around the planet that has captured a dried-up river system called Nirgal Vallis located just south of the equator. The river system stretches for nearly 700 kilometers (435 miles) and was shaped both by the flow of water through the rock and by impacts when meteorites hit the surface. You can see the tree-like branching caused by the river’s flow as well as the round craters caused by the impacts. The system is believed to be between 3.5 and 4 billion years old.

nasa esa images water mars pia21261 hires 1
The network of cracks in this Martian rock slab called “Old Soaker” may have formed from the drying of a mud layer more than 3 billion years ago. The view spans about 3 feet (90 centimeters) left-to-right and combines three images taken by the MAHLI camera on the arm

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