New instruments on board the Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) spacecraft began providing accurate, high-resolution image and topography data from the planet in 1997. Though data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) are consistent with hypotheses that suggest large standing bodies of water/ice in the northern lowlands in the planet's past history, Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) images acquired to test these hypotheses have provided negative or ambiguous results. In the absence of classic coastal features to test the paleo-ocean hypothesis, other indicators need to be examined. Tuyas and hyaloclastic ridges are subice volcanoes of unique appearance that form in ponded water conditions on Earth. Features with similar characteristics occur on Mars. MOLA analyses of these Martian features provide estimates of the height of putative ice/water columns at the edge of the Utopia Planitia basin and within Ophir Chasma of Valles Marineris, and support the hypotheses of a northern ocean on Mars. ?? 2003 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
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Sub-ice volcanoes and ancient oceans/lakes: A Martian challenge