NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Ancient Dried up Oasis on Mars

Mars' vast saltwater lakes evaporated around 3.3billion years ago

It combines three pictures taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the arm of NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. The car-sized rover is now in the process of scaling Mount Sharp, the huge landmass smack in the center of the Gale Crater. Streams might have laced the crater's walls, running toward its base.

The full findings of the study were published in the journal Nature Geoscience.

The Gale Crater, which is believed to be between 3.5 and 3.8 billion years old, serves as a reminder of the difference between Mars' climate then, which was wet, to the desolate, arid climate it has today.

NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds an Ancient Oasis on Mars - The network of cracks in this Martian rock slab called "Old Soaker".

Gale Crater modified into formed in a broad affect and modified into lastly stuffed with sediment. After the sediment hardened, the wind carved the layered rock into the towering Mount Sharp.

Over the aeons, the wind carved out a broad hill which has been named Mount Keen, which Curiosity is now mountaineering up. Now exposed on the mountain's slopes, each layer reveals a different era of Martian history and holds clues about the prevailing environment at the time.

"We went to Gale Crater because it preserves this unique record of a changing Mars", Caltech's William Rapin, lead author of the research, said in a statement.

Various salts have been detected on the surface of Mars, which researchers have interpreted as having been deposited from ancient brines - saline waters that would have become more common as the planet's climate became more arid.

Researchers determine that these salts are traces of the high salinity period for the crater lake, which may occur as the lake evaporates, and the measurements obtained are evidence of the high salinity range of the crater lake that may occur as the water evaporates. The study stated that Gale once had a lake-and-stream system and that the salt deposits showed that water likely concentrated in the crater when the water started evaporating. This is significant because normally dried-up lakes leave behind pure salt crystals. But the Sutton Island salts are different: For one thing, they're mineral salts, not table salt. This tells researchers that the lake-bed rocks must have dried out nearly completely at times, pointing to fluctuations in the Martian climate.

"During drier periods, the Altiplano lakes become shallower, and some can dry out completely", Rapin said. 'The fact that they're vegetation-free even makes them look a little like Mars'.

Animated gif showing the process of a lake bed drying up.

Curiosity landed on the floor of Mars in 2012, the place it has collected samples and studied the planet's local weather and geology for over 2,600 consecutive days, far surpassing its preliminary two-year mission.

Related:

Comments


Other news