NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds 'ancient Oasis' On Mars' Gale Crater

Science

Earlier on Monday, NASA's Mars rover 'Curiosity had found traces of ponds previously dotting the Gale Crater on Mars, as shared by the American space agency

Written By Suchitra Karthikeyan | Mumbai | Updated On:
NASA

While water has been found on the moon by Chandrayaan, bringing closer the dream of colonisation on the moon, NASA has shifted its focus to the red planet. Earlier on Monday, NASA's Mars rover 'Curiosity' had found traces of ponds previously dotting the Gale Crater on Mars, as shared by NASA. Curiosity which landed on Mars in 2012 has been exploring the 100-mile-wide (150-kilometer-wide) ancient basin of Gale Crater since then. NASA states this discovery indicates the planet's drying climate.

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Lakes on Mars?

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What has Curiosity found on Mars?

As explained in the NASA press release, scientists are currently trying to unearth what MArs looked like 3.5 billion years ago. Curiosity's latest discovery suggests that streams might have laced the crater's walls, running toward its base, states NASA. Scientists have interpreted that rocks enriched in mineral salts discovered by the rover as evidence of shallow briny ponds may have existed on Mars before drying up. The study which has been in a Nature Geoscience paper predicts that waterways overflowed and then dried up on Mars - a cycle that probably repeated itself numerous times over millions of years.

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What is its significance?

Scientists state that the long-lost presence of an oasis on Mars, indicates climate fluctuations as the Martian environment transitioned from a wetter one to the freezing desert it is today. They state that Curiosity is headed towards a region called the "sulfate-bearing unit," which is expected to have formed in an even drier environment. This will help scientists to understand how long this transition took and when exactly it occurred. These findings also point out that Earth and Mars were similar in their early days.

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What is its future scope?

The team plans to drive more inclined layers in the distant sulfate-bearing unit. In the coming years, NASA states that it will investigate its many rock structures. 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, states NASA. The team is currently running studying its findings to unearth more details of the red planet.
 

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