A monumental discovery was made after NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory – Curiosity Rover – was sent to Mars some 16 months ago. It’s main objective was to find evidence of a past environment that would have been well suited for supporting microbial life. And it did just that, it found that fresh water once flowed on Mars.
A team of mission researchers, writing a series of papers published in the journal Science, said they may have found evidence of what was once an ancient fresh water lake on Mars that might have been capable of supporting life per INT.
The researchers studied a set of sedimentary rock outcrops that were found on the floor near the Mars equator known as Yellowknife Bay on the floor of Gale Crater. These sedimentary rocks that were most likely formed from ancient Martian mud or clay lead researchers to believe that there was at least one lake that welted up with what could have been drinkable water. They believe this lake could have lasted for ten or even hundreds of thousands of years some 3.6 million years ago.
“Shortly after we landed, curiosity found evidence that liquid water had flowed across the surface long ago in Gale Crater,” said Jim Bell, from Arizona State University, an author of four of the papers. “These new results, however, come from the first drilling activities ever performed on Mars, and they show that in addition to surface water, there was likely an active groundwater system in Gale Crater that significantly weathered ancient rocks and minerals.”
The research team’s analysis of Yellowknife Bay’s clay-rich lake-bed region showed that a fresh water lake that contained basic but crucial biological elements such as hydrogen, nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen, and carbon existed at least once inside the Gale Crater.
According to the team, a lake with these elements could provide an ideal environment for simple microbial life such as chemolithoautotrophs, which are rock-eating microbes that live on and derive their energy from mineral compounds.
The researchers will continue their research by using the Mars roving science laboratory for even more evidence of ancient lakes or other habitable environments.