There are many craters on the surface of Mars, and a recent investigation indicates that many of them may have once been habitable rivers. The discoveries imply that life could have existed on Mars in the past.
The study was based on an examination of data from the Curiosity rover and was published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The biggest rover ever dispatched to Mars, Curiosity, was launched in November 2011 as a component of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission.
Researchers used computer models to mimic the thousands of years of erosion that has occurred at Mars’ Gale Crater. The study contrasted 3D scans of strata of rock formed beneath the Gulf of Mexico seafloor over millions of years with a computer model based on satellite data and Curiosity pictures.
These layers’ 25-year-old scans were used by the researchers. Oil firms have amassed these scans over time.
The idea that the Martian craters originally served as riverbeds is novel. According to a press release from Pennsylvania State University, eroding river deposits have never before been linked to Martian crater formations. Lead author of the new work is Penn State geoscientist Benjamin Cardenas.
“We’re discovering proof that Mars was probably a world with rivers. We observe evidence of this everywhere on Earth,” Cardenas told Penn State. “This analysis is a record of change, not a snapshot. What we observe on Mars now is not a landscape that has stood still in time, but rather the remains of an active geologic history.
The scientists also identified hints that further river deposits on Mars might still be undiscovered. “Our research suggests that there may have been far more rivers on Mars than previously thought, which certainly casts a more positive light on the possibility of ancient life on the planet.” Cardenas was reported as saying, “It provides a view of Mars where much of the planet originally had the appropriate circumstances for life.