Curiosity rover's crater 'offered multiple microbe-friendly environments'

Curiosity rover's crater 'offered multiple microbe-friendly environments'

In an interview with Newsweek, study co-author and Stony Brook University geochemist/planetary scientist Joel Hurowitz explained why Gale crater is a good place for scientists to analyze Mars' climate as it was billions of years ago - NASA's Curiosity rover can be found there, and is sending back more data on how conditions in ancient Martian history may have been conducive to life.

A Martian rock with even layers, an image captured in 2014 by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover, indicates sedimentary deposit of a lake-floor near the inlet of flowing water into the water body.

The primary goal of Curiosity when it landed inside Gale Crater in 2012 was to find out whether Mars ever had suitable environmental conditions for microbial life. This ancient lake which has now disappeared reveals the existence of various microbes on the Martian surface. One thing that caught their attention was the differences in the physical, chemical and mineral characteristics of the lakebed deposits at lower Mount Sharp, a mountain within the crater made of hardened mud and sediments that had piled up over time.

This is a depiction of Mars today and what a warm and wet ancient Mars might have looked like.		    Credit Wei Luo Northern Illinois University			  Close
This is a depiction of Mars today and what a warm and wet ancient Mars might have looked like. Credit Wei Luo Northern Illinois University Close

'But we have to remember that at the time of the Gale Lake, life on our planet had not yet adapted to using oxygen - photosynthesis had not yet been invented.

Scientists have known for a while that extraterrestrial life might've once been possible on Mars. A new report co-led by Roger Wiens of the Los Alamos National Laboratory doesn't confirm that living organisms took root on the red planet, but it does paint a picture that seems very optimistic.

'The diversity of environments in this Martian lake would have provided multiple opportunities for different types of microbes to survive'.

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Researchers found that the lake in Mars' Gale Crater was stratified.

According to Astro Biology Magazine, the stratified bodies of water are said to be exhibiting huge chemical and physical differences between shallow water and deep water. This means that parts of the lake consisted of more oxygen than others-something common in lakes on Earth.

Whether Mars has ever hosted any life is still unknown, but seeking signs of life on any planet, whether the Earth, Mars or more-distant icy worlds, begins with reconstruction of the environment to determine if it was capable of supporting life. Mount Sharp is an ideal place to conduct this testing, as NASA believes it's the result of rock and sediment being carried there over time by rivers and streams.

Powerball numbers: Did you win Saturday's $337 million jackpot?
The next Mega Millions drawing is Tuesday June 6, with an estimated jackpot of $80 million and cash option of $50 million. One of the tickets sold in Florida also played the Power Play option which increased their winnings to $2 million.

The researchers found that Mars experienced a climate change before it lost its atmosphere and became its current condition.

The elevated silica levels in the halos were discovered approximately 20 to 30 meters high, near to a rock-layer of ancient lake sediments - silica concentration in those sediments is high. This was because of changes in the planet's climate, as it evolved from a frigid planet to one with a warmer temperature that could have allowed life on Mars to exist.

These robotic explorations aim at understanding the Red Planet better which would help in establishing the human colonisation of Mars in 2030s.

WBJEE 2017 result to be declared on 5 June at wbjeeb
The West Bengal Joint Entrance Examination or the WBJEEM is West Bengal-government controlled centralized entrance test. WBJEE, an entrance exam for undergraduate engineering, pharmacy and technology courses, was held on 23 April.

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