Region Named in Ancient Mesopotamian Language Is the First Proof of a Martian Shoreline

A shoreline is described as a region where a large body of water meets on the surface a portion of land. We have plenty of them here on Earth, and we know them by other names as well, depending on a variety of factors: coast, beach, riverbank, littoral, and so on.
Shalbatana Vallis region of Mars 6 photos
Photo: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UArizona
Shalbatana Vallis region of MarsShalbatana Vallis region of MarsShalbatana Vallis region of MarsShalbatana Vallis region of MarsShalbatana Vallis region of Mars
As far as we know, at the present time Earth is the only place in this solar system to have shorelines. Way back in the past though, they might have been present on Venus too, and most definitely have been present on Mars as well.

The first region of the Red Planet to have been identified as a shoreline is called Shalbatana Vallis. The name is a combination of the Akkadian word Shalbatana, which means Mars, and the Latin word vallis, which stands for valley. And although neither the ancient Mesopotamiam empire nor the European one had anything to do with Mars, is sure sounds cool enough for a region of such importance.

Shalbatana Vallis is located in the Oxia Palus quadrangle, in the western hemisphere. It once contained a massive lake 80 square miles large (210 square kilometers) and possibly as deep as 1,500 feet (460 meters).

All that water is gone now, of course. Its place was taken by the widespread, reddish Martian dust that engulfs the planet, and from place to place the remnants of ancient impact craters are now extremely visible.

The latest image of the region to have been made public is featured as the main photo of this piece. It was snapped by the HiRISE orbital camera almost a year ago, from an altitude of 275 km (171 km). The “goal of this image is to observe how surface flow patterns in the area vary with distance from a proposed parent crater,” but we can’t stop from imagining clear blue water washing the shores of this place.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows the Shalbatana Vallis region of Mars.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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