Evidence of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars discovered
Curiosity rover uncovers sedimentary deposits which supports claim
More evidence has been found supporting the idea of major bodies of water being on Mars. Scientists found evidence of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars that could support microbial life. Located inside Gale Crater where the rover landed in August 2012, the lake theoretically covered an area 31 miles long and three miles wide.
Organic carbon, which so far has not been found on Mars, could have been preserved inside rocks within about two inches of the surface, the depth of Curiosity's drill.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Analysis of sedimentary deposits gathered by NASA\'s Mars rover Curiosity shows the lake existed for at least tens of thousands of years - maybe even longer.
\"We\'ve come to appreciate that is a habitable system of environments that includes the lake, the associated streams and, at times when the lake was dry, the groundwater,\" geologist John Grotzinger, with the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena says.
Speaking to reporters at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco, Grotzinger says that analysis of clays drilled out from two rock samples in the area known as Yellowknife Bay prove that a freshwater lake existed. The lake was active at a time when other parts of Mars were dried up or dotted with shallow, acidic, salty pools incapable of sustaining life.
The lake in Gale Crater could have supported a simple class of rock-eating microbes, known as chemolithoautotrophs. On Earth, these organisms are commonly found in caves and hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, Grotzinger adds.
The clays, which form in the presence of water, were younger than expected. This finding expands the window of time for when Mars may have been suited for life.
Previous studies from Mars orbiters, landers and rovers have provided increasing evidence for a warmer, wetter, more Earth-like Mars in the planet\'s past. Ancient rocks bear telltale chemical fingerprints of past interactions with water.
In addition, Mars\' surface is riddled with geologic features carved by water, such as channels, dried up riverbeds, lake deltas and other sedimentary deposits.
Organic carbon, which so far has not been found on Mars, could have been preserved inside rocks within about two inches of the surface, the depth of Curiosity\'s drill.
Finding rock samples with relatively short exposure times should not be a problem. One of the mud stones at Yellowknife Bay has been exposed to the destructive effects of cosmic rays for only about 70 million years, well within the period of time to detect organics.
\"A key hurdle that we need to overcome is understanding how those organics may have been preserved over time, from the time they entered the rock to the time that we actually detect them,\" Curiosity scientist Jennifer Eigenbrode with NASA\'s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland says.
The rover is currently on the way to a three-mile high mound of layered rock rising form the floor of Gale Crater, a formation known as Mount Sharp.
A birth foretold: click here to learn more!
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Technology News
- INTERNET TRIUMPHANT: By 2025, Web will be in every aspect of our lives - for good or ill
- Debate between scientists over details of evolution becomes heated
- DRAMATIC DEATH IN SPACE - Astronomers watch as an entire galaxy bleeds to death before their eyes
- Duck and Cover! Asteroid 2014 DX110 will buzz Earth today and you can watch it happen!
- 330-foot long aircraft hailed the largest in the world
- GIBBERISH! More than 100 articles in scientific journals found to balderdash
- New super pill could prolong human longevity
- Vintage cheese - found on the chests of 3,500-year-old mummies!
- Boeing producing 'BLACK' a super-spy phone worthy of James Bond
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?