Mars Curiosity Rover Data Reveals Traces Of Megaflood on Gale Crater

24 Nov, 2020 11:37 IST|Sakshi Post

A study published recently in the journal 'Science Papers', analysed data collected by NASA's Curiosity rover, launched in November 2011, and found the ice deposited on the Martian surface. The research also gave an idea about the gigantic flash floods touched off by the heat of a meteoritic impact.

"We identified megafloods for the first time using detailed sedimentological data observed by the rover Curiosity," said study co-author Alberto G. Fairen from Cornell University.

According to researchers, for around four billion years, geological features like the function of water and wind, have been frozen on Mars.

Lead author Ezat Heydari, a physics professor at Jackson State University in the United States said that "This case involves the occurrence of giant wave-shaped characteristics in Gale crater sedimentary layers, also referred to as "mega ripples" or "antidunes" which are about 30 feet high and about 450 feet apart."

Heydari added that the antidunes are indicative of the flowing megafloods at the bottom of the Mars' Gale Crater about four billion years ago, which are similar to the features formed about two million years ago by melting ice on Earth.

The most likely cause of the Mars floods, according to the report, was the melting of ice from heat produced by a large impact that released carbon dioxide and methane from the frozen reservoirs of Mars. The researchers said that water vapour and the release of gases combined to create a short duration of warm and wet conditions on Mars.

They claim that the condensation could have created clouds of water vapour, which in turn probably created torrential rain. It is believed that this water may enter Gale Crater and combined with water coming down from Mount Sharp in Gale Crater to produce gigantic flash floods.

The research team of the Curiosity rover had already discovered that Gale Crater once had persistent lakes and streams in the ancient past.
Scientists believe that these long-lived bodies of water are strong signs 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," Fairen said.

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