A photo taken by the ExoMars orbiter presents a stunning view of the ancient river delta, proving that water once flowed freely over the surface of the Red Planet, scientists say.
The image, released by the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Space Agency Roscosmos on Monday, offers a panoramic view of the Eberswalde crater in the southern hemisphere of Mars.
The left side of the 31-km-wide snapshot shows a delta resembling that of Earth’s Nile river in Northern Africa.
While liquid water does not exist on Mars now, the new image gives enough evidence that was part of the planet’s development years ago. The yellow spots on the picture point to oxidized iron deposits which is a sign that the rocks comprising the delta have been altered by water some time ago, Roscosmos scientists said.
The image was produced aboard a Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) launched 2016 as a part of the European-run ExoMars program. The device searches for gases in the atmosphere that might point at some past biological or geological activity.
ESA has been studying the Red Planet since 2003 with the next mission scheduled for 2020, when an ESA-Roscosmos rover will be launched. It will drill down into the surface of the Oxia Planum plain just north of the planet’s equator in search of hints of past life on Mars.
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