On Thursday, NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover revealed evidence that confirmed that in the past Mars was capable of storing water in lakes for an extended periods of time. According to their announcement, the ancient lakes remained stable for 100 to 10,000 years.
The Curiosity Rover team provided data that let them conclude that billions of years ago, water helped deposit sediments into the Gale Crater, where the rover landed a few years ago. The team discovered that the sediment deposited as layers that formed the foundation for Mount Sharp, the mountain that was discovered in the middle of the crater today.
“Observations from the rover suggest that a series of long-lived streams and lakes existed at some point between about 3.8 to 3.3 billion years ago, delivering sediment that slowly built up the lower layers of Mount Sharp,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. NASA reported.
The scientists based their analysis in previous studies that prompted about the existence of ancient lakes on Mars. Just a month ago NASA’s team confirmed that there were water flows on Mars. The story presented today links both the past and present of the planet.
A lead scientist from NASA’s Mars Exploration Program said that everything they thought they knew about water on Mars is currently being put to the test. “It’s clear that the Mars of billions of years ago, more closely resembled Earth than it does today. Our challenge is to figure out how this more clement Mars was even possible, and what happened to that water Mars.” NASA reported.
The results provided from Curiosity rover suggested that these water scenarios were correct for the lower portions of Mount Sharp. According to the recent evaluation, the filling of at least the bottom layers of the mountain happened for the most part by ancient rivers and lakes over a period of less than 500 million years.
Curiosity’s team stated that during the traverse of Gale, they noticed different patterns in the geology where they witnessed evidence of ancient fast-moving streams with coarser gravel, as well as places where streams seemed to have emptied out into bodies of standing water.
“We can have confidence that even though the climate models have a difficult time creating scenarios for a habitable ancient Mars, the geological evidence is solidly in favor of water being stable on the surface of Mars, which is really good thing for global habitability.” John P. Grotzinger told to Mashable. Grotzinger is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology at California Institute of Technology under the Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.
On the other hand, the professor also said that scientists have tended to think of Mars as being simple. “We once thought of the Earth as being simple too. But the more you look into it, questions come up because you’re beginning to fathom the real complexity of what we see on Mars. This is a good time to go back to reevaluate all our assumptions. Something is missing somewhere.” He finally stated in press release, reported by NASA.
Furthermore, the researchers confirmed that the mission is going to continue and hopefully it will provide more fascinating glimpses into the history of Mars.