Thanks to a combination of images taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover, a survey of sedimentary rocks beneath the Gulf of Mexico, and computer simulations, geologists have discovered the eroded remains of ancient rivers in several craters on Mars. A new analysis of data from the rover has revealed that many of the planet’s current craters may once have been life-friendly rivers. Using data collected by the Curiosity spacecraft in Gale Crater — a large impact basin with a massive, layered mountain in the middle — the team found signs of river deposits.
The Penn State University research team simulated erosion on Mars over thousands of years and found that common crater formations, called “seat and nose” landforms, are most likely the remains of ancient riverbeds. NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exploring the Red Planet since 2012 to see if Mars has the right environmental conditions to support microbial life.
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Researchers examined data and images taken by the Mars rover Curiosity.
“There is still a lot to learn about Mars by better understanding how these river deposits are interpreted by thinking about rocks accumulated over time today. This analysis is not a snapshot, but rather a record of change. Penn and lead author of the study: “What we see on Mars today are the remains of an active geological history, not a landscape frozen in time.”
The computer model was trained on a combination of satellite data, Curiosity images and a 3D stratigraphic scan. Cárdenas and his team have found a new use for surveys conducted 25 years ago of seafloor stratigraphy in the Gulf of Mexico. Cardenas explained that surveys collected by oil companies provided a perfect comparison with Mars.
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