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Recurring slope lineae in equatorial regions of Mars

Nature Geoscience

By:
, , , , , , , , , and
DOI: 10.1038/ngeo2014

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Abstract

The presence of liquid water is a requirement of habitability on a planet. Possible indicators of liquid surface water on Mars include intermittent flow-like features observed on sloping terrains. These recurring slope lineae are narrow, dark markings on steep slopes that appear and incrementally lengthen during warm seasons on low-albedo surfaces. The lineae fade in cooler seasons and recur over multiple Mars years. Recurring slope lineae were initially reported to appear and lengthen at mid-latitudes in the late southern spring and summer and are more common on equator-facing slopes where and when the peak surface temperatures are higher. Here we report extensive activity of recurring slope lineae in equatorial regions of Mars, particularly in the deep canyons of Valles Marineris, from analysis of data acquired by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. We observe the lineae to be most active in seasons when the slopes often face the sun. Expected peak temperatures suggest that activity may not depend solely on temperature. Although the origin of the recurring slope lineae remains an open question, our observations are consistent with intermittent flow of briny water. Such an origin suggests surprisingly abundant liquid water in some near-surface equatorial regions of Mars.

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Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Recurring slope lineae in equatorial regions of Mars
Series title:
Nature Geoscience
DOI:
10.1038/ngeo2014
Volume
7
Year Published:
2014
Language:
English
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Contributing office(s):
Astrogeology Science Center
Description:
6 p.
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Nature Geoscience
First page:
53
Last page:
58
Other Geospatial:
Mars