Plumbing on Mars: HiRISE Reveals Groundwater Cracks

This image from the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter, shows cracks in the rocks on Mars that once formed the underground plumbing through which groundwater traveled.

Groundwater flow on Mars has been speculated for a long time, but it takes powerful cameras like HiRISE to actually find the evidence. These cracks resisted erosion because they were filled with minerals deposited by groundwater, so now we can see them as positive relief.

From the press release:

“This study provides a picture of not just surface water erosion, but true groundwater effects widely distributed over the planet,” said Suzanne Smrekar, deputy project scientist for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “Groundwater movement has important implications for how the temperature and chemistry of the crust have changed over time, which in turn affects the potential for habitats for past life.”

Too bad we didn’t find these a year ago so they could be considered as an MSL landing site…

Explore posts in the same categories: Astrobiology, HiRISE, MRO, MSL, NASA, Pictures, Water on Mars

2 Comments on “Plumbing on Mars: HiRISE Reveals Groundwater Cracks”

  1. danielle Says:

    im having a hard time adjusting my eyes to this picture…
    the press release says there are “Visible effects of water on the color and texture of rock along the fractures” what kind of textures are visible that can be seen at this scale as proof for water?

  2. Ryan Says:

    The cracks in this image are lighter than their surroundings and also are raised up, indicating that they are more resistant to erosion. Normally, cracks in a rock would be the first places to erode, so the fact that these are standing up means there were probably minerals deposited in them by water.


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