NASA Rover Mission Says Mars Was ‘Similar to an Earth Environment.’

NASA, rover mission, mars

NASA’s aptly named Curiosity rover is sparking ample curiosity for its findings on Mars. NASA has reported that one of the major discoveries, as a result of the Curiosity rover, is an ancient lake found on Mars. If that were not enough to spark curious imagination, they also reported that they see signs of water that could possibly be called drinkable. A chief investigator into the mission has even said they see signs that Mars may had an environment similar to Earth’s.

Don’t think that this is all old news. Yes, NASA has known about the existence of water on Mars for some time now, but they had previously thought the quality of water was deadly. It has been described as akin to “battery acid.” These findings suggest something that could be tolerant of human consumption.

The chief scientist of the Curiosity rover mission, also a Cal-Tech geologist, actually made some bold predictions concerning the findings. John Grotzinger said that if Earth microbes were put on Mars they would “survive and thrive.” Pretty straightforward concept.

“This is really similar to an Earth environment,” Grotzinger said at a conference on the findings of the mission. Grotzinger is also one of the authors of a scholarly article which is titled, A Habitable Fluvio-Lacustrine Environment at Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars. If the words Fluvio-Lacustrine do not ring any bells, then maybe Habitable…Environment will.

“The equatorial surface region of Mars has been regarded as dry, free of liquid or frozen water,” said principal investigator into the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Alfred McEwen. “But we may need to rethink that,” McEwen added.

NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has also revealed small dark marks which could be due to salt water.

It is estimated that these lakes or swimming holes would have been wet thousands or even millions of years ago. It is also estimated that these areas were very cold, possibly continually frozen.

These new reports offer a sounder, detailed summary of the surface of Mars and the supposed fresh water lake that is within Gale Crater.

Gale Crater is guessed to be 4.2 billion years old and contains a lake which could be closer to 3.5 billion years old. This crater and its lake have been known for some time, but it was only suggested the lake retained water for a small period of time. Scientists had speculated the fresh water may have drifted in and out of existence, but the findings of this Curiosity rover suggests that it was a more permanent fixture on Mars’ surface.

Scientists have suggested it could be part of a long-lasting habitable environment with rivers bringing groundwater.

The major point is that the water is now  perceived as being sustained for a long period of time, giving organisms enough time to grow and adapt.

With its monumental findings, it does not seem the Curiosity has killed the cat, but rather given life to possible mineral eaters. NASA’s Curiosity rover has brought back some vital information but perhaps nothing more intriguing to the public than the idea of a habitable environment on Mars, that could be very similar to the environment on Earth.

By Nick Manai


Science Mag

Washington Post



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