Curiosity Rover Finds an Ancient Oasis on Mars

Curiosity Rover Finds an Ancient Oasis on Mars

The Curiosity rover, which is designed to explore Mars, has found an ancient oasis on Mars.

Researchers working with the Curiosity rover have found salt-enriched rock at a place called Sutton Island on Mars. The rocks suggest ponds with briny water on Mars, billions of years ago.

As we have mentioned above Curiosity is a car-sized rover designed to explore the crater Gale on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011.

The rover’s goals include an investigation of the Martian climate and geology; assessment of whether the selected field site inside Gale has ever offered environmental conditions favorable for microbial life, including investigation of the role of water; and planetary habitability studies in preparation for human exploration.

“Imagine ponds dotting the floor of Gale Crater, the 100-mile-wide (150-kilometer-wide) ancient basin that Curiosity is exploring. Streams might have laced the crater’s walls, running toward its base. Watch history in fast forward, and you’d see these waterways overflow then dry up, a cycle that probably repeated itself numerous times over millions of years”, that is the landscape described by Curiosity scientists.

[The deposits serve as a watermark created by climate fluctuations as the Martian environment transitioned from a wetter one to the freezing desert it is today].

William Rapin of Caltech is the lead author of the new paper said; “We went to Gale Crater because it preserves this unique record of a changing Mars. Understanding when and how the planet’s climate started evolving is a piece of another puzzle: When and how long was Mars capable of supporting microbial life at the surface?”.

Source: Text; earthsky.org

Image credit; earthsky.org