NASA’s New Mars Photos Suggest The Planet Was An Oasis, Not A Desert Like Now
By Thanussha Priyah, 10 Oct 2019
Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
NASA’s scientists believe that Mars, now known to be barren desert, could have been a wet environment 3.5 billion years ago.
The space agency’s Curiosity Mars rover discovered mineral salts infused with sediments in rocks across a 100-mile-wide basin called the Gale Crater. This hints the possibility of ponds being present on the planet in the past.
The rover previously captured evidence of freshwater lakes on Mars as well, and is currently observing individual layers of the Gale Crater and Mount Sharp to get a clear indication of Mars’ past.
According to the scientists, the Red Planet might have been an “ancient oasis” with underwater structures including lakes and shallow ponds.
“Streams might have laced the crater’s walls,” NASA explains. Over time, however, the environment changed due to “climate fluctuations.”
The space agency has compiled three images captured by the Curiosity Mars rover's MAHLI camera into one photo, shown below. NASA details that the composite depicts a Martian rock slab called “Old Soaker” with a network of cracks believed to have formed from “the drying of a mud layer more than three billion years ago.”
Is this rock slab a remnant of ancient briny Martian ponds?— NASA Marshall (@NASA_Marshall) October 9, 2019
Photos from @NASA's @MarsCuriosity are giving us a new look back into the Red Planet's past >> https://t.co/nWSvQ0hBOI pic.twitter.com/sghXcB0Sj9
[via Cnet, images via NASA]
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