Paris, Dec 12 (ANI): Data and images from Mars Express suggest that groundwater springs played a much important role in shaping the surface of the Red Planet than previously believed, and may have even sheltered primitive life forms as the planet started drying up.Light Toned Deposits (LTDs) - martian sediments that most closely resemble sediments on Earth - are some of the most mysterious sediments on Mars. Causes for their origin remain unknown.
These deposits occur on a large scale in Arabia Terra, Chaotic Terrain and Valles Marineris, close to the Tharsis volcanic bulge.
Until now, different mechanisms, including volcanic processes, have been proposed for their formation.
Now, based on Mars Express data, scientists propose that these sediments are actually younger than originally believed, and several of the LTDs may have been deposited by large-scale springs of groundwater that burst on to the surface, possibly at different times.
Hydrated minerals, relatively young in age, have been found in the region.
Given that the deposits are relatively young in age, and associated with water, they may also have sheltered microbial life from the drier and harsher climate in more recent times on Mars, possibly eliminating the need for a stable atmosphere or a permanent water body. (ANI)