NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has been scooting along the martian surface for weeks in search signs that the red planet may have once supported microbial life. Obviously, finding water or places where water once existed would make the process a whole a lot easier. Thankfully, Curiosity has discovered what appears to be an ancient stream bed!
Photos recently taken by the rover provide a look at several different rocky outcrops containing stones that feature smooth rounded edges, some of which are fairly large, leading NASA to believe that they were once whisked across the surface of Mars by flowing water.
“From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep,” Curiosity co-investigator William Dietrich, of the University of California, Berkeley, said in a statement.
“Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them,” he continued. “This is the first time we’re actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it.”
The findings come after researchers studied photographs of three different outcrops inside Gale Crater. The first outcrop (Goulburn) lies a few feet from the rover’s landing site while the other two (Link and Hottah) were spotted as Curiosity traveled.
Considering Curiosity’s mission will span two years and it’s hardly two months deep, how strongly do you feel that Curiosity will find evidence of life on Mars?
[Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS and PSI]