NASA spotted Ancient lake on Mars

NASA scientists have found a wide diversity of minerals in the initial samples of rocks collected by the Curiosity rover in the lowermost layers of Mount Sharp on Mars, suggesting that conditions changed in the water environments on the planet over time.

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Curiosity (rover):Curiosity is a car-sized robotic rover exploring Gale Crater on Mars as part of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission (MSL). Curiosity was launched from Cape Canaveral on November 26, 2011, at 15:02 UTC aboard the MSL spacecraft and landed on Aeolis Palus in Gale Crater on Mars on August 6, 2012,

Goals and objectives

Biological

  • Determine the nature and inventory of organic carbon compounds.
  • Investigate the chemical building blocks of life (carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur).
  • Identify features that may represent the effects of biological processes (biosignatures and biomolecules).

Geological and Geochemical

  • Investigate the chemical, isotopic, and mineralogical composition of the Martian surface and near-surface geological materials.
  • Interpret the processes that have formed and modified rocks and soils.

Planetary process

  • Assess long-timescale (i.e., 4-billion-year) Martian atmospheric evolution processes.
  • Determine present state, distribution, and cycling of water and carbon dioxide.

Current Status

  • The new research, published in the journal Science, showed that the crater floor rose over time, the result of sediments in water settling down, layer after layer, for what may have been thousands of years.
  • Water from north of the crater regularly filled the basin, creating long-lasting lakes that could have been a haven for life. Scientists suspect the water came from rain or snow.
  • Eventually, the crater filled with sediments. Then the winds took over and eroded the lake bed, leaving behind just a mound at the center. That mound, named Mount Sharp, is why Curiosity was sent to Gale Crater to look for ancient habitats suitable for microbial life.
  • Scientists have learned that Mars had all the ingredients thought to be necessary for life.
  • Exactly how Mars managed to support long-lived surface water is a mystery. Billions of years ago, the planet lost its global magnetic field, which allowed solar and cosmic radiation to gradually blast away its protective atmosphere. Under those conditions, liquid water evaporates quickly.

Life On Mars

The possibility of life on Mars is a subject of significant interest to astrobiology due to the planet’s proximity and similarities to Earth. To date no proof has been found of past or present life on Mars. However, cumulative evidence is now building that the ancient surface environment of Mars had liquid water and may have been habitable for microorganisms. The existence of habitable conditions does not necessarily indicate the presence of life.

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