The debate whether Mars had life on it or not has been reinvigorated after Curiosity Mars rover documented a large crater that may have once held water, scientists suggest.

Mars may have once had a massive lake, according to recent data revealed by the Curiosity Mars rover. It has led scientists to believe that at one time Mars was much wetter than originally thought. Gale Crater is the location at which scientists believe a 96-mile-wide crater existed.

That crater, filled with water, was likely formed due to the build-up of sediment over an incredibly long period of time. At the heart of that crater was a large mountain. Scientists believe that if the lake were on the Red Planet – which it’s entirely possible that life existed, or had the potential to exist on it – at the very least.

Dr. Michael Meyer, of NASA noted that “The size of the lake in Gale Crater and the length of time and series that water was showing up implies that there may have been sufficient time for life to get going and thrive.” The scientists noted sandstone deposits were pointed in the direction of Mount Sharp, which would indicate that at one time water flowed toward the center of the crater.

mars-rover-curiosity-sample-images

Over the next several months Curiosity will be climbing Mount Sharp to make further observations of the planet and the specific region. Scientists noted that “We’ll also look at the chemistry of the rocks to see if the water that was once present would’ve been of the kind that could support microbial life, if it ever was present.”

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The mountain that’s being studied rises roughly 3.4 miles from the center of the crater. Around Sharp is where the greatest information lies that scientists were able to get their hands on. Sanjeev Gupta – who is a member of the NASA team – pointed out that the small rivers leading from the Mountain to the crater where the lake likely was that “these are likely to be quite small, maybe a couple of meters water depth – so very, very small deltas, but certainly clear evidence that we’re building out, likely, into a standing body of water.”

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The deposits are the first solid sign that scientists have had in some time that Mars very likely could have had a large body of water. This will give scientists new evidence and new leads to look at moving forward beyond this mission.

17 COMMENTS

  1. My theory is the Mars god had to go pee one day and since the nearest blackhole was clogged and he couldn’t wait he went on Mars instead. The force of the stream of godly water made a crater then filled up with frothy yellow bubbles. The mountain they’re studying was a kidney stone that came out at the time.

  2. Hey why not say it’s 17 trillions year old? who is going to check you guys? and you can always say after a few years that the previously thought estimation was wrong.. making fool of people.

    • Because it isn’t 17 trillion years old.

      The mudstones in Gale Crater have been determined to be somewhere between 4.5 and 3.8 billion years old through radiometric dating. There’s a lot of potassium-40 in the mudstones, which have decayed into argon-40. Potassium-40 has a half-life of about 1.25 billion years. There was a lot of argon-40 in these mudstones. A lot. Hence, very old.

      But not older than 4.5 billion years, because that would have been before the solar system was created, so it can’t be 17 trillion years old.

      Gale Crater has a dissected edge, meaning erosion by wind and water has gradually destroyed the edge of the crater, carving canyons into it. Combining this with crater counting and the geology of the surrounding area, supports that the crater is around that old.

      Using exposure age dating, it was determined that the mudstones were exposed around 48-108 million years ago by wind erosion, after having been covered for nearly 4 billion years. This is important, because the mudstones would have been kept out of harm’s way from cosmic radiation for a long, long time, which is useful if you are looking for an old biological marker, that is, looking for ancient life.

      Why cosmic rays? Because Mars has a very weak magnetic field. How do we know? Cosmic rays produce noble gases, argon-26, neon-21 and helium-3. They are there.

      Why were the mudstones covered up? Don’t know.

      The mudstones exist only inside this crater, not outside it, as previously observed by the rover.

      The mudstones are there, because they were once sediments deposited by flowing water. We know the water flowed from north to south of the crater from observing eroded sandstones at the edge of the crater and outside of it and following it down to the bottom.

      The mudstones exist in many layers, which happens, when cyclic changes occur over millions of years, indicating a long lasting lake body at the site.

      The rocks at the side of the crater are covered with layers of sediment deposits which is extremely typical of long dried out lake beds. We then know also that the lake bed was a few hundred meters deep.

      Combining these observations (and more than I’ve written here) as well as knowledge on erosion rates gives the estimate of around 3.5 billion years. Until better data comes along, for example, by having a geologist on Mars or better instruments than those on the rover, which has very well known limitations, this is the official age of the lake bed.

      Geology is a fascinating topic, especially with modern tools.

      • My question is whether or not the lake was water after previous soil samples revealed the high levels of chlorine that exists in the soil on Mars? People are too eager to claim signs of possible life when the soil remains toxic to any known life forms that exist on earth today with the exception of a few forms of bacteria which utilize the chlorine and convert it to the greenhouse gases that support life on earth today. The decay of isotopes do tell us a great deal, but they do tell us if the pool was water?

    • Oh you don’t believe in accepted scientific methods. But let me guess, it’s entirely plausible Mars was magicked in place 6000 years ago

  3. “Unchurched”? Lol. While taking religion at Baylor University, I became interested in the history of Christianity more than the dogma. Turns out there is plenty they don’t want to teach, such as how Mary came to be regarded as a “Virgin” due to a mis-translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, written in Hebrew and Arabic, that were translated first into Greek, from Greek into Latin, and then English. I’ll spare you the long boring story(Mary was NOT a virgin) but, people who actually get a comprehensive formal education in the history of religion no longer believe any of it anyway. Education begets logic. Logic exposes religion to be mythology. Oh, well. The Greek Gods had a 6000 year run. Christianity has been around for 2000 years before it began to die out. I give it another 60 years, then it’ll be mentioned in a past history context such as “wow, can you believe people were still believing in that with all the knowledge available back then? More people have suffered and been murdered and more wars have been started and waged over differences in something that doesn’t even exist, until it’s just incomprehensible. I’d like to see it end.

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