While many are looking to Curiosity for new selfies, the rover continues to look for water.
NASA’s one ton rover is there for science but isn’t afraid of an occasional selfie. The latest came near a sandstone outcrop in the Kiberley region of the Gale Crater where it has been working. Dozens of shots were taken using a camera at the end of its arm and later turned into a composite self-portrait.
Most scientist and researchers believe that if Mars did indeed have a past water supply that it was underground or perhaps above ground for a short period of time in limited locations. However, new data collected by NASA’s Curiosity Rover suggest that longer-lasting lakes may have once existed for some time above ground.
Mount Sharp studies suggest rivers and lakes
But now, based on shots taken by the rover of Mount Sharp, NASA scientists believe that there may have been a large lake or series of lakes located in the Gale Crater. The reason for their mind change revolves around the three mile tall Mount Sharp which has been found to include different types of sediment. These different sediments were likely deposited by a lake bed as well as a river.
Mars, is of course, now bereft of any surface water, and in order for it to have existed in the past Mars’ atmosphere would have been much heavier as well as warmer. While scientists are now leaning towards the presence of surface water, they are unsure how the aforementioned atmosphere would have formed and what would have caused the wholesale change.
Curiosity Rover: The Murray formation
The data that Curiosity collected largely comes from its studies of the Murray formation and a 500-foot piece of rock that is believed to have been formed by river sentiment repeatedly over time. That piece of rock was then eroded by wind in order to shape the mountain as Curiosity has photographed it.
“The great thing about a lake that occurs repeatedly, over and over, is that each time it comes back it is another experiment to tell you how the environment works,” Curiosity Project Scientist John Grotzinger recently stated. “As Curiosity climbs higher on Mount Sharp, we will have a series of experiments to show patterns in how the atmosphere and the water and the sediments interact. We may see how the chemistry changed in the lakes over time. This is a hypothesis supported by what we have observed so far, providing a framework for testing in the coming year.”
Obviously, water on the surface would be one of the many keys to proving the past existence of life on the Red Planet.