Traces of an Ancient Oasis Discovered on Mars

It may be hard to believe, but oursplanet and Mars are actually not so different. A recent study published in the journal Nature Geoscience suggests that the Red Planet in the past looked more like an oasis than a desert. Now, thanks to the NASA Curiosity rover, it has become known that this arid and inhospitable planet of the Solar System has been covered by rivers and lakes for 3.5 billion years. The data obtained by Curiosity also suggests that the ancient salt water in the Martian rocks is full of mineral salts. This means that in the past an unstable climate prevailed on the planet.

It looks like the surface of the planet Mars

What discovered the Curiosity rover?

Back in 2018, NASA and Google createdAn interactive map of the Red Planet, which every Internet user can see right now. Having carefully examined the map, you can understand exactly where the Curiosity rover, which landed near the Gail crater, collected its data, and paved its further path climbing up Mount Sharp. The study of this area allowed the rover to compose a close-up of the area from eleven ponds and streams that survived unstable periods of flooding and evaporation, until they finally disappeared, leaving behind mud cracks and dry river beds.

Map of Mars from NASA and Google looks like this

Team Leader Curiosity Rover WilliamRapin from the California Institute of Technology explained the reasons why it was decided to send a rover to Gale Crater. The fact is that the crater retained unique traces of the change in Mars. Researchers concluded that Gale Crater appeared as a result of the fall of a huge asteroid on the Red Planet. Water and wind, subsequently, helped the residues accumulate in the crater layer by layer. Thus, the area near the crater and Mount Sharp represents the geological history of the fourth planet from the Sun. Read more news about the incredible discoveries in the field of astronomy on our channel in Yandex.Zen.

Possible mud cracks preserved inMartian rock: the network of cracks in this Martian stone slab, called the “Old Soaker”, may have been formed as a result of the drying of a layer of mud more than 3 billion years ago

As the rover climbs the mountainSharp, scientists see the general trend of the transition of the landscape from wet to drier. However, the change in landscape was not linear. Most likely, several periods alternated among themselves. But for how long has Mars turned from an oasis into a desert? Experts believe that the answer lies in the region of the Gale crater, which the team calls a “sulfate-containing unit.” It is believed that this area formed in a much drier period, while the foothills of Mount Sharp are more humid.

Is there life on Mars?

So, if Mars in the past wasoasis, does this mean that there was life on the Red Planet? Scientists cannot answer this question yet. First of all, it is necessary to understand when and how the climate of the planet began to develop, as well as when and for how long the conditions on Mars were suitable for maintaining microbial life.

Martian oasis could look like this

This is interesting: NASA showed a spacesuit in which the Americans will return to the moon

Probably the answer may be on the islandSutton is a 500-foot-high section of sedimentary rock with a series of mud cracks that also indicate that once the water on the Red Planet was and periodically flooded this area. A distinctive feature of Sutton Island is the fact that the salts that remained after the evaporation of water are not only edible salt, but also mineral salts. These salts crystallize in an aquatic environment, which is believed to be located below dried reservoirs. Nevertheless, experts doubt that they will be able to detect fossils of Martian microbes. Do you think we will find traces of life on Mars? Share your thoughts in the comments as well as with the participants of our Telegram chat.