Does Mars have channels? This was a topic of debate at the end of the 19th century. Several prominent astronomers, such as Percival Lowell, not only intended to see on Mars a broad system of long straight channels, but also used them as indicators of intelligent life on that planet.
The opposition of 1894, in which Mars was relatively close to Earth, was used to make sketches like the one in the image above, on the left, reconstructed on a digital scale. Currently, the last Martian opposition allowed the Hubble space telescope to capture a photograph of Mars, with an orientation similar to that of the image on the left.
The comparison of the two images shows that the general characteristics were recorded reliably, but that there is no extended system of long and straight channels.
The satellites that orbit Mars today have conclusively proved that the red planet does have surface characteristics similar to those of the channels, but that these are almost always shorter, sinuous and less extensive than what was previously intended. True cannon systems, such as the Noctis Labyrinthus (Night Labyrinth), are most likely failures caused by ground tension.
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