NASA’s Mars probe finds ‘clearest evidence’ of ancient water
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At the foot of a mountain on Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover has found startling new evidence of an ancient lake in the form of rock carved with ripples – and telltale signs appear in a uncertain place.
The rover is passing through an area on Mars known as a “sulphate storage unit” that researchers previously thought would provide evidence of mere water droplets, as scientists believe. that the rocks there formed when the surface of the red planet was drying out. Instead, explorers found some of the clearest evidence of ancient waters.
“This is the clearest evidence of water and waves we’ve seen during the entire mission,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. declare. “We’ve climbed thousands of meters of lake sediment and have never seen evidence like this — and now we’ve found it in a place that we think is dry.”
The sulphate bearing parts is an area formerly identified by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter as containing salty mineral deposits just below a 18,000 sets (5,500 meters) named Mount Sharp. Scientists see the sulphate reservoir as a site full of clues to how and why Mars transformed from a water-filled planet to the frozen one it is today, and researchers have long sought to find a way. Explore this area more deeply.
According to NASA, although the area contains rocks that are believed to have formed “when the water dried up in a trickle,” new images from Curiosity show evidence of a shallow lake.
“Billions of years ago, waves on the surface of a shallow lake stirred up sediment at the bottom of the lake, which over time created rippled textures left in the rock,” according to a NASA press release.
Rocks marked by waves have been found about a half mile (800 meters) away. into the ascent of Curiosity Mount Sharp. As the rover climbs higher, it moves over more recently formed rocks. That’s why the researchers didn’t expect to see such obvious signs of a large body of water.
Specifically, the rocks were discovered in what is known as the Valley of the Marker Band, a zigzag-shaped rock formation that stands out from the landscape thanks to its darker color. The rover will begin exploring the Marker Band feature — discovered to have thin, hard layers of rock covering a scale-like surface — in 2022.
According to NASA, Curiosity tried to take samples from some of the rocks, but they proved too hard for the rover’s drill bit. But scientists are hoping the vehicle will hit some softer, more favorable spots for sample collection as its journey continues.
The Curiosity rover has been exploring the Martian surface for about a decade, and it has been climbing the foothills of Sharp since 2014. Scientists are particularly interested in the mountain because of its suspected past — in that landmark surrounded by streams and lakes — could have been host to microbial life forms. That is, if there ever existed on Mars.