New evidence: Mars used to be similar to Earth, even a habitable place

(Image credit: NASA/GSFC)

,- There is new proof that Mars used to be a wet planet, a cold world with water and snow. Mars used to have a thicker carbon dioxide atmosphere as well, but that has changed.

This new fact was found by NASA's Curiosity, which looked at the Gale Cave on Mars, which is the site of an old lake. Sedimentary rocks had more manganese oxide than other types of rocks.

"It's hard for manganese oxide to form on Mars's surface, so we weren't expecting to find a lot of it in coastal reservoirs," said Patrick Gasda, lead author and member of the Space Science and Applications group at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

"On Earth, it's clear that these deposits happen all the time because of the high oxygen in the atmosphere produced by photosynthetic life and microbes that help catalyse the manganese oxide reaction."

"On Mars, we don't have any evidence of life, and the mechanisms for producing oxygen in the ancient Mars atmosphere are still unclear, so how manganese oxide is formed and concentrated here is confusing.""This finding points to a bigger process going on in the Martian atmosphere; it points to the fact that we still need to do a lot of research to fully understand oxidation on Mars," Gasda said, quoting IFL Science.
This shows that Mars has had many old rivers in the past.

Manganese oxide compounds can also be made at the lake's edge by water, groundwater moving through sand, or groundwater itself. That being said, there is still something to do to oxidise those metals.

"These old rocks show us the area around Lake Gale, showing us a habitable environment surprisingly similar to places on Earth today," said Nina Lanza, who is in charge of the ChemCam device.
"Common manganese minerals are found in shallow, toxic waters on the shores of lakes on Earth, and it's amazing to find features that can be recognised on ancient Mars."


 (Newsline Paper Teams)

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