Halos On Mars Suggest Liquid Water Flowed On Planet For A Long Time

Posted: Jun 1 2017, 8:10am CDT | by , Updated: Jun 1 2017, 8:21am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

Halos on Mars Suggest Liquid Water Flowed on Planet for a Long Time
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

High-Silica halos shed light on a warm, wet Mars billions of years ago

Scientists have already known that Mars landscape had water flowing across its surface from time to time. The presence of water on Mars makes it the most Earth-like planet in our solar system. But solar winds and radiation eventually stripped it of nearly its entire atmosphere and transformed the planet into a barren and cold place.

Now, researchers have found yet another evidence of water-rich atmosphere on ancient Mars and the find might be associated with more surprise. NASA's Curiosity rover have discovered halos around the fractures on Mars surface . The pale “halos” surrouding fractures in the bedrock contain high concentrations of silica and indicate that the planet had maintained liquid water much longer than previously thought.

The discovery was made by NASA’s Curiosity rover while examining the uneven terrain of Gale Crater. While the discovery does not by itself offer evidence of life on Mars, it does boost hope that Mars had right conditions to support life for a longer time.

“The concentration of silica is very high at the centerlines of these halos.What we're seeing is that silica appears to have migrated between very old sedimentary bedrock and into younger overlying rocks,” said Jens Frydenvang, a Curiosity rover team scientists and lead author of the study. “The goal of NASA's Curiosity rover mission has been to find out if Mars was ever habitable, and it has been very successful in showing that Gale crater once held a lake with water that we would even have been able to drink, but we still don't know how long this habitable environment endured. What this finding tells us is that, even when the lake eventually evaporated, substantial amounts of groundwater were present for much longer than we previously thought – thus further expanding the window for when life might have existed on Mars.”

NASA’s Curiosity rover has been searching for signatures of past life on Mars ever since 2012. It has travelled several miles across Mars's rocky terrain to investigate the planet’s habitability. The silica-rich halos were found near a rock-layer of ancient lake sediments inside the Gale crater and were analyzed by using rover's onboard instruments, including the laser-shooting Chemistry and Camera ChemCam. These instruments are helping researchers to draw a more complete picture of the geological history of Mars.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




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