For the first time in history, the Viking 1 lander made history as the first craft to arrive on the surface of Mars in 1976.
However, what it found was not what scientists anticipated – a surface lacking in features associated with flowing water. Now, a new study suggests that Viking 1 landed at the margins of a megatsunami from the planet’s earlier, wetter phase, changing our perception of the Red Planet forever.
Evidence Of A Catastrophic Asteroid Impact
Researchers have discovered a crater left 3.4 billion years ago when an asteroid impacted, producing a 250-meter wall of water that washed over the landscape and altered Viking 1’s landing zone. It is a 68-mile (110 kilometers) wide crater dubbed Pohl, which is located in the northern Martian lowlands, which was a shallow sea billions of years ago. Simulations show the resulting wave may have been as much as 820 feet (250 meters) tall.
High-Resolution Images Reveal Ancient Megatsunami
The crater was spotted using data from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter’s HiRISE camera, which can capture images at 25cm per pixel. This enabled the team to observe ocean-generated formations, which suggests that the crater formed during the time when the Martian lowlands were covered in water. The seismic shaking from the event may have been so intense that the ocean floor dislodged and contributed to the debris seen around the Viking 1 site.
Exploring Pohl Crater
The team calls for a more detailed examination of Pohl crater and the surrounding area. The most recent exploration of this region was Pathfinder in the late 1990s, but NASA does not currently have plans to send another rover to Mars. The next Martian operation is the joint ESA operation to collect samples from the Perseverance rover and return them to Earth. Those missions are expected to launch at the tail end of this decade.
Tiesha loves to share her passion for everything that’s beautiful in this world. Apart from writing on her beauty blog and running her own beauty channel on Youtube, she also enjoys traveling and photography. Tiesha covers various stories on the website.