Science

NASA found a weirdly salty 'ancient oasis' on Mars

NASA found a weirdly salty 'ancient oasis' on Mars”

If you could travel back in time 3.5 billion years, what would Mars look like?

The ChemCam-short for "chemistry" and "camera"-sits atop NASA's Mars Curiosity rover". The car-sized rover is now within the technique of scaling Mount Sharp, the large landmass smack within the middle of the Gale Crater. This is evidence that a salty lake was evaporating from the surface around that time, scientists reported Monday in a new paper in Nature Geoscience.

It made the incredible gain within Gale Crater, a 100-mile-wide dry lakebed, using a tool which lets in it to zap Martian rocks with a laser to figure out their chemical assemble-up.

The scientists are trying to find out how long transitions between different climates took on Mars. Sediment carried by water and wind filled in the crater floor, layer by layer.

Over the aeons, the wind carved out a broad hill which has been named Mount Keen, which Curiosity is now mountaineering up.

Any water that was once present is now clearly long-gone and understanding more about the change in Mars' climate from a watery world to that of a giant desert is one of the primary objectives of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)/Curiosity rover investigation. Salts discovered on Sutton Island are different, mainly they are mineral salts, not table salt.

Dr Rapin and colleagues report detecting sulfate salts in 3.3-3.7 billion-year-old sedimentary rocks from the planet's so-called Hesperian period.

The study also found sulfates located in the shallow sections at the fringes of the Gale Crater, meaning there may have been "segmentation of the Gale lake into discrete ponds, including those where extremely evapo-concentrated brines might form".

Pure salt is usually left behind when a lake dries and disappears, but these are mineral salts mixed in with sediment. Scientists liken the region's ancient environment to the South America's Altiplano, where alpine lakes and streams from the surrounding mountains feed a series of saline lakes on an arid, high-altitude plateau. Streams and. rivers flowing. from mountain ranges result in comparable basins because the Martian terrain. Lakes on the Altiplano are heavily influenced by climate in the same way as Gale.

"Alternatively, a drier Gale lake might be a sign of long-term, secular global drying of Mars, posited based on orbital observations", scientists of the study said.

What Mars may have looked like. The study showed that Earth's cousin not only had river and lake systems but also vast oceans covering its northern hemisphere.

Sutton Island's salt-enriched rocks are just one clue among several the rover team is using to piece together how the Martian climate changed.

Curiosity landed on the floor of Mars in 2012, the place it has collected samples and studied the planet's local weather and geology for over 2,600 consecutive days, far surpassing its preliminary two-year mission.



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