NASA rover finds ‘clearest evidence yet’ of an ancient lake on Mars | CNN

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Within the foothills of a Martian mountain, NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered gorgeous new proof of an historic lake within the type of rocks etched with the ripples of waves — and the telltale indicators appeared in an unlikely place.

The rover is traversing an space of Mars known as the “sulfate-bearing unit” that researchers beforehand thought would solely present proof of mere trickles of water, as scientists believed the rocks there shaped because the floor of the crimson planet was drying out. As an alternative, the rover discovered a number of the clearest proof but of historic waters.

“That is the perfect proof of water and waves that we’ve seen in all the mission,” stated Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s challenge scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a statement. “We climbed via hundreds of ft of lake deposits and by no means noticed proof like this — and now we discovered it in a spot we anticipated to be dry.”

The sulfate-bearing unit is a area beforehand recognized by the Mars Reconaissance Orbiter as containing salty mineral deposits simply beneath an 18,000-foot (5,500-meter) mountain known as Mount Sharp. Scientists contemplate the sulfate-bearing unit to be a location rife with clues about how and why Mars morphed from a watery planet into the frozen place it’s at the moment, and researchers have lengthy sought to discover the world in additional depth.

Billions of years ago, waves on the surface of a shallow lake stirred up sediment at the lake bottom. 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.

Although the area accommodates rocks that have been thought to have shaped “when water was drying to a trickle,” based on NASA, the brand new photographs from Curiosity present proof of a shallow lake.

“Billions of years in the past, waves on the floor of a shallow lake stirred up sediment on the lake backside, over time creating rippled textures left in rock,” based on a NASA information launch.

The wave-marked rocks have been discovered about one-half mile (800 meters) into Curiosity’s ascent of Mount Sharp. Because the rover climbed larger, it traveled over rocks that might have shaped extra just lately. That’s why researchers didn’t anticipate to see such clear markers of a big physique of water.

Particularly, the rocks have been found in what’s known as the Marker Band Valley, a zigzag formation of rocks that stands out in opposition to the panorama, due to its darker coloring. The rover started exploring the Marker Band function — which was discovered to have skinny, exhausting rocks masking the floor is a scalelike sample — in 2022.

Curiosity has tried to extract samples from a number of the rocks, however they proved too exhausting for the rover’s drill, based on NASA. However scientists are hoping the automobile will come across some softer spots extra conducive to pattern assortment as its trek continues.

The Curiosity rover has been exploring the Martian floor for a few decade, and it’s been climbing the bottom of Mount Sharp since 2014. Scientists are significantly within the mountain as a result of its suspected previous — wherein the landmark was surrounded by streams and lakes — may have been host to microbial life varieties. That’s, if any ever existed on Mars.

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