Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Home Tech News Nasa finds ‘clearest evidence’ of ancient lake on Mars, raising hopes for...

Nasa finds ‘clearest evidence’ of ancient lake on Mars, raising hopes for alien life

The evidence was found in a place that was expected to be dry (Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

Scientists have found new evidence that Mars was once home to a lake, raising the chances that the red planet could have housed life.

Nasa’s Curiosity rover found clues to Mars’ watery past in the form of rippled rock textures that suggest lakes existed in a region of ancient Mars that scientists expected to be drier.

‘Billions of years ago, waves on the surface of a shallow lake stirred up sediment at the lake bottom,’ said Nasa in a statement.

‘Over time, the sediment formed into rocks with rippled textures that are the clearest evidence of waves and water that Nasa’s Curiosity Mars rover has ever found.’

Last year, Nasa’s Curiosity rover found evidence that lakes once covered a region of Mars.

Mars Valley

Gediz Vallis which is thought to have been eroded by a small river (Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech/MSSS)

So Curiosity’s team was surprised to discover the mission’s ‘clearest evidence yet’ of ancient water ripples that formed within lakes.

‘This is the best evidence of water and waves that we’ve seen in the entire mission,’ said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at Nasa’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

‘We climbed through thousands of feet of lake deposits and never saw evidence like this – and now we found it in a place we expected to be dry,’

Since 2014, the rover has been ascending the foothills of Mount Sharp, a 5-kilometre-tall mountain that was once laced with lakes and streams that would have provided a rich environment for any microbial life that could have existed on Mars.

Having climbed nearly a half-mile above the mountain’s base, Curiosity found these rippled rock textures preserved in what’s nicknamed the ‘Marker Band’ – a thin layer of dark rock that stands out from the rest of Mount Sharp.

This rock layer is so hard that Curiosity hasn’t been able to drill a sample from it despite several attempts.

Far ahead of the Marker Band, scientists can see another clue to the history of Mars’ ancient water in a valley named Gediz Vallis which is thought to have been eroded by a small river.

Scientists suspect wet landslides also occurred here, sending car-size boulders and debris to the bottom of the valley.

Not far from the rippled textures, Nasa has found rocks made of layers suggest that the Red Planet had seasons that changed periodically.

‘The wave ripples, debris flows, and rhythmic layers all tell us that the story of wet-to-dry on Mars wasn’t simple,’ Vasavada said.

‘Mars’ ancient climate had a wonderful complexity to it, much like Earth’s.’

Last year, researchers found clear evidence of a 3.5 billion-year-old shoreline around 900 metres thick, which covered thousands of square kilometres, using topography data.

Rocks collected by the Curiosity rover were also found to contain organic carbon which may have come from bugs that once roamed Mars.

MORE : Mars scientists think they’ve found a grizzly bear’s face on the Red Planet

MORE : Nasa’s Mars lander sends its last image with a heartbreaking farewell message

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Japan to resume imports of Canadian processed beef, 20 years after mad cow disease

Descrease article font size Increase article font size Japan is lifting the last of its restrictions against Canadian beef, 20 years after BSE, often called mad...

Binance really loved telling people to use VPNs, allegedly

/ More tales from the crypto group chats Nick Barclay / The VergeSo I read through the CFTC complaint against the world’s largest...

Uber Eats is shutting down thousands of virtual restaurants to make the app less spammy

/ The food delivery app is cracking down on the ghost kitchens that have identical menus. Illustration: Alex Castro / The VergeUber Eats...

Peterborough 2022 Sunshine List led by PRHC top brass, medical officer of health

Descrease article font size Increase article font size For likely his last time, Dr. Peter McLaughlin was again the highest-paid public-sector employee in Peterborough, Ont., according...