'Kimberley' formation on Mars

A view from the “Kimberley” formation on Mars taken by NASA’s Curiosity Rover.

 

Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

A week after NASA scientists said data from a satellite that orbits Mars confirmed water pours down craters on the red planet, a Mars rover team has it own big water announcement.

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover team confirmed Thursday that Mars once was capable of storing water in lakes over an extended period of time. The lakes probably existed billions of years ago, but the data from Curiosity provided yet more evidence that liquid water existed on Mars.

“Observations from the rover suggest that a series of long-lived streams and lakes existed at some point between about 3.8 billion to 3.3 billion years ago, delivering sediment that slowly built up the lower layers of Mount Sharp,” said Ashwin Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

Vasavada also is the co-author of the new Science article to be published today confirming the rover’s data.

“What we thought we knew about water on Mars is constantly being put to the test,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at NASA. “It’s clear that the Mars of billions of years ago more closely resembled Earth than it does today.

“Our challenge is to figure out how this more clement Mars was even possible, and what happened to that wetter Mars.”

More confirmation of water leads scientist to believe that there was — or still is — some form of life on Mars.

The existence of liquid water, announced last week, also opens the possibility that there is still an underground water source on Mars.

 That means missions there may be able to tap into, filter and process the water for human consumption.

It also means the hydrogen from water could be used to create rocket fuel so Mars missions will have the ability to return to Earth.

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