New York: Mars once had salt lakes similar to the ones on Earth and has gone through wet and dry periods, according to a new study. The researchers from Texas A&M University College in the US examined Mars’ geological terrains from Gale Crater, an immense 95-mile-wide rocky basin that is being explored by the NASA Curiosity rover since 2012 as part of the MSL (Mars Science Laboratory) mission, according to the study published in the journal Nature Geoscience.
The results show that the lake, which was present in Gale Crater over three billion years ago underwent a drying episode, potentially linked to the global drying of Mars. Gale Crater was formed about 3.6 billion years ago when a meteor hit Mars. “Since then, its geological terrains have recorded the history of Mars, and studies have shown Gale Crater reveals signs that liquid water was present over its history, which is a key ingredient of microbial life as we know it,” said study co-author Marion Nachon from Texas A&M University. “During these drying periods, salt ponds eventually formed. It is difficult to say exactly how large these ponds were, but the lake in Gale Crater was present for long periods of time - from at least hundreds of years to perhaps tens of thousands of years,” Nachon said. (IANS)