NASA’s Curiosity rover, which has been exploring the Martian surface, has discovered evidence that lakes once existed in an unexpected region of the Red Planet. The US space agency announced the discovery of rippling rock patterns, indicating the presence of vast quantities of water where scientists had assumed there would be none.
According to a NASA release, the team behind Curiosity was therefore taken aback when they found the most convincing proof of ancient lake waves yet for the expedition. A tiny lake’s surface waves mixed up material at the lake’s bottom billions of years ago, giving the granite rippling textures over time.
“This is the best evidence of water and waves that we’ve seen in the entire mission,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity’s project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.
“We climbed through thousands of feet of lake deposits and never saw evidence like this-and now we found it in a place we expected to be dry.”
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The curiosity rover has been cruising the foothills of Mount Sharp, a three-mile-high mountain that was formerly covered in streams and lakes, in quest of the aquatic past of the red planet.
According to the space agency, “Mount Sharp is made up of layers, with the oldest at the bottom of the mountain and the youngest at the top. As the rover ascends, it progresses along a Martian timeline, allowing scientists to study how Mars evolved from a planet that was more Earth-like in its ancient past, with a warmer climate and plentiful water, to the freezing desert it is today.”
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