Gale Crater is a Lake In The Past Mars

Astronomy Science ~ Curiosity recently discovered a giant crater on Mars that might have been successfully supporting microbial life for mi...

Astronomy Science ~ Curiosity recently discovered a giant crater on Mars that might have been successfully supporting microbial life for millions of years in the past because the crater was once a large lake of water.

Curiosity found evidence of this crater lake inside the crater Gale which has a width of 96 miles (154 kilometers). Today, the Gale Crater dry and striking landscapes, but in the ancient past, the flow of the lip of the crater created a lake where sediments gradually build up Mount Sharp, a mountain which has a height of about 3.4 miles (5.5 km) looming from the center of the crater.

"The lake is large enough to survive for millions of years - time enough for life to form and evolve, sufficient time for the lake sediment build up and form Mount Sharp," said Michael Meyer, lead scientist Program Mars Exploration at NASA Headquarters in Washington.

Build A Mysterious Mountain

The origin and evolution of Mount Sharp has puzzled scientists even before the Curiosity mission is launched. But the rover observed recently near the base of the mountain has brought the picture into clearer focus. In some locations, Curiosity see location and position of sandstone tilted toward Mount Sharp.

This illustration shows a lake of water that partially fill the Gale Crater on Mars.
On Earth, this kind of thing seen in the delta of the river which never leads to the lake, Curiosity science team member Sanjeev Gupta said in Imperial College London. And as it is also possible to create features on Mars. "Maybe delta was very small, may have a depth of a few meters, but the evidence is clear that this flow brings more material to build up sediment in the water," said Gupta.

These deposits are also observed in some altitude shows that they are arranged in several cycles. Curiosity also see the rock rhythm, rock outcrops in the scale of millimeters at the base of Mount Sharp called Pahrump Hills - something that rover has never been seen on Mars. On Earth, rocks smooth as it is formed when rain falls gently to form a precipitate Sidem, so they are strong evidence of the existence of puddles, said Curiosity project scientist John Grotzinger, of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Rock outcrops in the millimeter scale seen at the base of Mount Sharp Curiosity called Pahrump Hills
Also in Pahrump Hills, Curiosity see crystals in the rock that looks like salt that remains after the evaporation of water, said Grotzinger added. When the lake is there, perhaps not too deep, said Gupta. (While the depth at the location of the delta only a few meters or more, it is difficult to estimate the depth of the lake as a whole.)

Furthermore, the slope of the sediment to the south it is difficult to explain if Mount Sharp had been present when the lake is still there, the researchers say: should Water flows downhill, to the north, away from Mount Sharp in that location. "The resolution of the paradox states that represent the current layer of water flowing from the crater rim to the interior of the crater, and filling a series of piles, and then stack it eroded" form Mount Sharp, said Grotzinger.

Mars The Warm And Wet

Mars certainly a very different place around 3.5 billion years ago than today to support the existence of Gale Crater lake. Planet Mars definitely warmer, moist and with more atmosphere thick. But our climate models have difficulty to explain how such conditions could persist for a long time on ancient Mars, said Vasavada. So we may need to think about this theory back.

"Perhaps the short lifespan of a climate that is warm and wet Mars can be explained as a result of volcanism, orbital changes [or] a large asteroid impact, which are all active at the time of Mount Sharp formed," said Vasavada. "Each event may have created a warm and wet conditions for hundreds or thousands of years, which may be enough to fill the crater Gale with a single layer of sediment."

Curiosity rover reached the base of Mount Sharp in September this year after traveling for 14 months. Curiosity spent his first year on Mars near the landing site, where he found strong evidence of the existence of an ancient system of lakes and streams that might support microbial life in the past. These latest results reinforce and expand the correct conclusions.

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AstroNation: Gale Crater is a Lake In The Past Mars
Gale Crater is a Lake In The Past Mars
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