Mars Probably Used To Have Massive Lakes And Streams

It’s very likely the Gale Crater on Mars, where NASA’s Curiosity rover famously landed in 2012, was once home to expansive lakes, the space agency has confirmed.

NASA scientists first proposed that the crater once contained a massive lake after analyzing data from the rover last year. Now, a new paper that was published Friday in the journal Science provides direct evidence that the red planet was once home to ancient bodies of water.

“We have geological evidence that points to long-lived lakes,” Dr. Ashwin Vasavada, project scientist for NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission and a co-author of the paper, told The Huffington Post.

“We went to Gale Crater to figure out if that environment ever had the conditions to support life,” he said. “One of the necessities for habitability is water, and we already had some clues from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter images taken before landing that there was action of water within Gale Crater but we didn’t know how much water was involved… and we didn’t know how long it was there.”

The researchers examined images taken by the Curiosity rover’s onboard cameras and analyzed data from soil samples that were collected by the rover drilling in Gale Crater.

They noticed three different kinds of rocky sediment that provide evidence for the presence of flowing water, Vasavada said. The first kind of sediment was gravel that is often found in the bottom of stream beds. The second was sandstone and the third was a fine, silty rock that may have once been mud formed at the bottom of standing water.

Standing water must have been a part of the red planet’s history and flowing water must have deposited sediments into the crater’s lake 3.8 to 3.3 billion years ago, —> Read More