Data from NASA’s Curiosity Rover Suggest Ancient Mega-Flood on Mars: Study
Giant flash floods once passed through Gale Crater on the equator of Mars about four billion years ago, according to a study hinting at the possibility that life may have existed on the red planet.
The investigation, published recently in the journal Scientific Reports, evaluated data collected by From NASA The Curiosity rover, launched in November 2011, discovered that “gigantic flash floods”, probably caused by the heat of a meteorite impact, unleashed stored ice on the Martian surface.
According to the analysis, scientists, including those at Cornell University in the US, said These floods of “unimaginable magnitude” created giant waves that are telltale geological structures familiar to scientists on Earth.
“We identified mega-floods for the first time using detailed sedimentological data observed by the Curiosity rover,” said study co-author Alberto G. Fairen of Cornell University.
According to scientists, geological features, including the work of water and wind, have been frozen in time at Mars for about four billion years.
They said that these features convey processes that shaped the surface of both Earth and Mars in the past.
This case includes the appearance of giant wave-shaped features in the sedimentary layers of Gale Crater, often called “megaripples” or “antidunes” that are about 30 feet tall and spaced about 450 feet apart, according to the author. principal, Ezat Heydari, professor of physics. at Jackson State University in the United States, he noted.
The antidunes are indicative of the flow of mega-floods at the bottom of the Gale crater on Mars about four billion years ago, which are identical to features formed by melting ice on Earth about two million years ago, Heydari added.
According to the study, the most likely cause of the flooding on Mars was melting ice from the heat generated by a large impact, which released carbon dioxide and methane from the planet’s frozen reservoirs.
The water vapor and the release of gases combined to produce a brief period of warm and humid conditions on Mars, the researchers said.
They believe the condensation may have formed clouds of water vapor, which in turn likely created torrential rains, possibly across the planet.
This water may have entered Gale crater and combined with the water coming down from Mount Sharp in Gale Crater to produce gigantic flash floods, the scientists added.
the Curiosity The rover’s science team had already established that Gale Crater once had persistent lakes and streams in the ancient past.
The researchers believe that these long-lived bodies of water are good indicators that the crater, as well as Mount Sharp within it, were capable of supporting microbial life.
“The first Mars was an extremely active planet from a geological point of view. The planet had the necessary conditions to support the presence of liquid water on the surface, and on Earth, where there is water, there is life,” Fairen said.