Elon Musk wants humans to colonize Mars - but what if we're not the first species there?
NASA’s Curiosity rover recently discovered traces that a flood had once washed over the Gale crater on Mars, around four billion years ago. Scientists feel that this may hint toward the possibility of life existing on the Red Planet.
The analyzing of data was conducted by scientists from Jackson State University, Cornell University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawaii. The results were published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
The megaflood may have been the result of icy reservoirs melting down on the planet due to the heat of a meteoritic impact. This impact was so huge that the “gigantic ripples” have left geological footprints on the Martian surface. Much like Earth, the geographical structures have remained intact after billions of years.
The water vapour and release of gases from the surface may have combined to produce a short period of warm and wet conditions on Mars, the researchers said.
They believe the condensation may have formed water vapour clouds, which in turn likely created torrential rain, possibly planetwide. This water may have entered Gale Crater, and combined with water coming down from Mount Sharp in Gale Crater to produce gigantic flash floods, the scientists added.
The Curiosity rover science team had already established that Gale Crater once had persistent lakes and streams in the ancient past. The researchers believe these long-lived bodies of water are good indicators that the crater, as well as Mount Sharp within it, were capable of supporting microbial life.
“Early Mars was an extremely active planet from a geological point of view. The planet had the conditions needed to support the presence of liquid water on the surface — and on the Earth, where there’s water, there’s life,” said Fairen, an author of the study.
Early Mars, therefore, was a habitable planet. But was it inhabited? The answer doesn't lie with Curiosity, but the next rover heading towards Mars - Perseverance.
Perseverance, which launched from Cape Canaveral on July 30, is scheduled to reach Mars on Feb. 18, 2021.