Curiosity rover finds evidence of ancient lakes on Mars

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NASA discovered a large amount of clay minerals on Mars. File photo:

“This is the best evidence of water and waves we’ve seen during the entire mission,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity rover project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. .

The Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars since 2012, has returned impressive images of the ripples on the surface of rocks caused by the waves of a shallow lake billions of years ago.

The Curiosity rover has previously found evidence that lakes that once existed in many areas of Mars are mineral salts left over after these lakes have dried up.

However, NASA scientists were surprised to find such clear evidence of the existence of water in the Gale crater that the Curiosity rover is exploring because the area may have formed at the time. Mars is getting drier.

Curiosity is exploring the low hills at the foot of a 5 km high mountain called Mount Sharp. The rover also detected debris in a mudslide swept through a valley on Mount Sharp, NASA said. Mr. Vasavada said the mudslide could be the latest evidence of water on record. It will help scientists study the inaccessible higher strata on Mount Sharp.

NASA says Mount Sharp, with the oldest strata at the base and the youngest at the top, provides scientists with a “Mars chronology” to study how Mars changed from a planet more like Earth than in the ancient past, with a warmer climate and more water, into the frigid desert it is today.

Another Mars rover, Perseverance, landed on the Red Planet in February 2021 to look for traces of bacteria from the past. This multirole rover will collect 30 soil and rock samples back to Earth around the 2030s for laboratory analysis.

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