Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms

2015 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Hargitai, Ákos Kereszturi

Canal (Mars)

  • Robert Markley
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3134-3_30

(Obsolete, Historic)


Linear features on Mars observed through telescopes by some observers in the late nineteenth to early twentieth century.


Majority of canals were determined to be false observations, that is, not related to actual linear features on Mars, even though the observers were convinced they saw such features.

History of Investigation

Percival Lowell theorized that these features were artificial and formed a network of single and double canals and oases (dark patches, presumed to be vegetation, at canal intersections) made by an advanced civilization on Mars. The seasonal changes in the Martian polar caps and the albedo changes (now known to be caused by katabatic winds that scour the planet’s surface and reveal comparatively darker rock underneath transient “sand” or “dust”) led to the almost universal acceptance that Mars harbored at least primitive vegetative life. Lowell maintained that the canals transported scarce water resources “fed from the...

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of IllinoisUrbanaUSA