In an astonishing finding, researchers have revealed that the Mars had river in the past and carried pebbles up to 50 km. The theory was developed after examining the size and shape of pebbles found on the Red Planet that have become round in shape due to abrading against other rocks found in the riverbed.
With the help of mathematics researcher Douglas Jerolmack, a geophysicist at the University of Pennsylvania, along with Gábor Domokos, a mathematician at Budapest University of Technology and Economics have estimated that the pebbles would have travelled nearly 50 km in the river flowing on the Mars in the past. It supports the theory that says water existed on the Mars previously which is a sign that life would have existed on the Red Planet in the past.
Researchers examined the images captured by NASA’s curiosity rover which was launched from Cape Canaveral on 26 November 2011 and landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012. Since, then Curiosity has been searching signs of water on the planet. Researchers were astonished to see the round shape of pebbles just like they are on Earth.
To solve the mystery of round shape of pebbles, study authors used the simple concept that a pebble traveling in water abrades against other rocks in the riverbed, thus it loses mass and gradually gains a rounder shape. To demonstrate the findings, Domokos tested this theory in the lab where he took rolling limestone fragments in a drum and periodically paused it to show the changing shape and mass loss.
After doing some mathematical calculations, they found that the rocks must have lost nearly 20 percent of the mass while they were in the riverbed. It was also unveiled that rocks on the Mars traveled nearly 50 km in the river.
“Now we have a new tool we can use to help reconstruct ancient environments on Earth, Mars and other planetary bodies where rivers are found such as Titan,” said Jerolmack. He further added that the study could be used future missions.
The research has again strengthened the belief that water existed on the Red Planet which points toward the existence of alien life.
The study appeared in the journal Nature Communications.