The important thing to understanding whether or not Mars was ever liveable is water. For all times as we all know it to thrive, liquid water must be current — and we all know that although it’s now dry, there was as soon as liquid water on the floor of Mars. Nevertheless, the historical past of water on Mars is complicated, and scientists are nonetheless debating precisely how lengthy water was current there and when the planet dried up.
And it’s about to get extra complicated. Not too long ago, the Curiosity rover has made an intriguing discovery suggesting that water was as soon as current in an space that scientists had thought could be dry.
Curiosity captured the picture above in December 2022 in a area known as the Marker Band Valley. The ripple-like textures had been created by precise ripples in a lake, billions of years in the past, which stirred up sediment on the lake mattress into these varieties.
The weird factor about this discovery is its location — the rover is at present climbing up a mountain known as Mount Sharp, the place the oldest layers of rock are on the backside and youthful layers are on the prime. On the level the rover is at present situated, round half a mile from the mountain’s base, the researchers anticipate finding drier circumstances — however as an alternative, they discovered this proof that there was as soon as a shallow lake right here.
“That is one of the best proof of water and waves that we’ve seen in your entire mission,” mentioned Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s venture scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, in a assertion. “We climbed by 1000’s of toes of lake deposits and by no means noticed proof like this – and now we discovered it in a spot we anticipated to be dry.”
In addition to these ripples, there’s one other rock characteristic within the space that has the staff excited. There are rhythmic rock layers which have a repetitive sample, suggesting that they had been attributable to common cycles of the local weather or climate reminiscent of mud storms. That implies that the historical past of water within the area might need been difficult additional.
“The wave ripples, particles flows, and rhythmic layers all inform us that the story of wet-to-dry on Mars wasn’t easy,” Vasavada mentioned. “Mars’ historic local weather had a beautiful complexity to it, very similar to Earth’s.”