The amazing rock formations documented by NASA’s Curiosity probe provide evidence of a dry climate in the Red Planet’s ancient past.
During the past ten years, Curiosity roamed Martian terrain in search of clues about the planet’s potentially habitable past. Recently, the car-sized robot passed through a transition zone, from an area rich in mud to an area filled with a salty mineral called sulfate, which may have surface lakes, to an area implying drier conditions for the Red Planet.
NASA: The most complete image of Mars ever taken (1.8 billion pixels) with over 1,000 images taken by the Curiosity rover
– AstroAventura (AstroAventura) 26 June 2022
Significant change in the climate of Mars
In fact, this transition can provide The record of the great change in the climate of Mars billions of years ago that scientists are only beginning to understand.
While the science team focused on the mud-rich and sulfate-laden regions for clues that each might provide about Mars’ watery past, the transition region also proved scientifically fascinating.
Clay minerals formed when lakes and streams flowed through Gale Crater, depositing sediments at what is now the base of Mount Sharp, The 3-mile-high mountain that Curiosity has climbed since 2014. On the mountain in the transition zone, Curiosity’s observations show streams dried up and sand dunes formed over lake sediments.
““We no longer see the lake sediments that we’ve seen for years below Mount Sharp,” Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada said in a statement. at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
“Instead, we see a lot of evidence of drier climates, like dry sand dunes that sometimes have currents around them. That’s a big change from lakes that lasted probably for millions of years before that.”
As the rover climbs higher through the transition zone, it detects less mud and more sulfates.. Curiosity will soon dig up the last rock sample it will take from this area, providing a more detailed look at the changing mineral composition of these rocks.
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