Space

Mud cracks indicated the existence of water on ancient Mars

Furrows on the stone slab are reminiscent of cracks that form when the mud dries out
NASA / JPL-Caltech / MSSS

Scientists came to the conclusion that furrows on stone slabs that were recently discovered by the rover “Kyuryoshiti” may be mud cracks left after the evaporation of water. If the assumptions of the researchers are correct, the discovery confirms that in the distant past, wet periods on Mars could alternate with drought. This is reported on the website of the aerospace agency NASA.

Scientists have long said that the climate on ancient Mars could be much more humid than it is now. In favor of this hypothesis is the observable traces of the processes occurring on the planet, such as tsunamis. Recent research shows that rivers and lakes on Mars could exist up to the Amazonian era, which began 3 billion years ago and continues to this day. In addition, at the end of last year, scientists managed to find boron in veins on the Martian rocks. Its presence may indicate that once the water on the Red planet was suitable for the existence of life.

Researchers at NASA probably found another evidence in favor of the fact that the climate on Mars used to be less arid. The scientists considered the images received by the rover “Curyosity” in December 2016 in the area of ​​Old Soaker. On the photos sent, there is a stone slab covered with a network of shallow shallow furrows. Before, the rover did not show anything similar: in shape they resembled cracks that form on the Earth when the soil cracks and cracks (such cracks can often be observed when the puddles dry out and the mud that is lying on the bottom splits).

On our planet, mud cracks are usually filled with dust or sand, which brings the wind. On Mars, “Curiosity” has so far discovered other types of cracks: they appeared in the rocks, on which the layer of sedimentary rocks lying on top pressed. In this case, the depressions were filled with minerals, which were delivered underground water (for example, stones with veins of calcium sulphate).

The team of scientists used the instruments installed on the “Kyuriosity” to determine which material fills the cracks found in the photographs. According to the researchers, they managed to detect dust particles and minerals in them. According to NASA experts, this may indicate that the “breaks” appeared in two stages: first the mud cracked, then the sediments accumulated in the depressions, which began to press on the stones, and this led to the appearance of other cracks and the formation of mineral veins.

Researchers say that “patterns” on stone slabs could appear about three billion years ago. If the assumptions that they are mud cracks are correct, then this, together with other findings of “Curiosity”, indicates that the wet periods on Mars could be accompanied by a drought. “Ancient lakes had different depth and size, and sometimes disappeared. We see more and more evidence that in fact, lakes, which are usually considered “long-livers,” could actually dry out periodically, “comment NASA experts.

Not so long ago geophysicists discovered on Mars a frozen near-surface lake. The volume of water in it is not inferior to the volume of water in the Upper Lake – the largest freshwater pond in the world. Ice reserves are hidden beneath the plain of Utopia, a lowland with a diameter of about 3,300 kilometers.

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