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NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has captured an image of ancient riverbeds on Mars, providing evidence of a time when water flowed on the planet’s surface billions of years ago. The image, posted on NASA’s “Planetary Photojournal,” shows ridges in Aeolis Planum, which tell a story of a Mars that was once very different from the dry, desert world it is today.

Ancient Rivers and Inverted Channels

The meandering forms in the image are the result of water once filling these rivers with gravel, while finer grains surrounded the waterway when the banks overflowed. This phenomenon, known as inverted channels, occurs when the fine-grained surroundings are easily eroded away after the river disappears, leaving the gravely river bed as a high-standing ridge.

Evidence of Past Water on Mars

The image provides further evidence of the presence of liquid water on Mars in the past. This discovery supports the theory that Mars was once a more temperate planet with a thicker atmosphere and a more hospitable environment for life.

Ongoing Exploration of Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover is currently exploring the surface of Mars, searching for signs of past primitive life. Future missions may include a compact Mars plane and even human astronauts, as NASA continues to investigate the potential for life on the Red Planet.