Ancient oasis once existed on Mars

Pablo Tucker
October 9, 2019

Scientists on the Curiosity mission described their interpretation of the rover's Gale Crater observations - and of the ancient Martian landscape - in a new paper published Monday in the journal Nature Geoscience.

Imagine ponds dotting the floor of Gale Crater, the 100-mile-wide (150-kilometer-wide) ancient basin that Curiosity is exploring. Older rocks that Curiosity analyzed didn't have such concentrations of these salts. "Understanding when and the way the planet's local weather began evolving is a chunk of one other puzzle: When and the way lengthy was Mars able to supporting microbial life on the floor?"

The subsequent step of their analysis is for scientists to grasp how lengthy the transition took and when it occurred, in accordance with a press release from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

The study also found sulfates located in the shallow sections at the fringes of the Gale Crater, meaning there may have been "segmentation of the Gale lake into discrete ponds, including those where extremely evapo-concentrated brines might form".

A mysterious "oasis" has been found on the ground of Mars, raising hopes that evidence of lifestyles might seemingly possibly moreover in some unspecified time in the future be found on the Red Planet.


The remnant of a large asteroid or meteoroid affect, Gale Crater preserves a "distinctive file of a altering Mars", Rapin mentioned, making it the flawless place to seek for proof of the planet's prehistoric local weather. The team says that when a lake dries up entirely, it leaves piles of pure salt crystals being.

Over the aeons, the wind carved out a broad hill which has been named Mount Keen, which Curiosity is now mountaineering up.

Sutton Island's salt-enriched rocks are just one clue among several the rover team is using to piece together how the Martian climate changed.

Given that Earth and Mars were similar in their early days, Rapin speculated that Sutton Island might have resembled saline lakes on South America's Altiplano.

Mr Rapin said: "During drier periods, the Altiplano lakes become shallower, and some can dry out completely".


What Mars may have looked like.

Curiosity is far from done in its quest to unravel Mars's climatic history and it has a few more years left before its nuclear power system degrades enough to significantly limit operations. "There were very wet periods and very dry periods-as these sulfate-rich rocks show us".

Up until now, the rover has encountered lots of flat sediment layers that had been gently deposited at the bottom of a lake.

"We know for sure this deeply affected its climate". If they formed in drier conditions that persisted for a long period, that might mean that the clay-bearing unit represents an in-between stage - a gateway to a different era in Gale Crater's watery history.


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