NASA’s Curiosity rover found evidence of ancient megafloods on the Red Planet, which fundamentally means that water means the presence of life.
Images that show large channels on Mars and megaripples (wave-shaped features) on its surface can mean that in the past, the planet suffered from floods. The data obtained with the help of the Curiosity rover helped scientists prove that the Gale crater was the witness of megafloods around 4 billion years ago.
The team of scientists from Jackson State University, Cornell, the University of Hawaii, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory studied the images of minerals and rocks in the crater taken by Curiosity’s Mars Hand Lens Image and Mastcam cameras. As a result, they found sediments that could be deposited by flash floods after the formation of the crater.
“We identified megafloods for the first time using detailed sedimentological data observed by the rover Curiosity,” says Alberto G. Fairén, co-author of the study. “Deposits left behind by megafloods had not been previously identified with orbiter data.”
Scientists say that a huge meteorite or asteroid caused these floods, and its impact generated so much heat that massive amounts of ice on Mars melted. After that, methane and carbon dioxide were released, forming a wet and warm climate for a while.
The importance of this discovery lies in the fact that water could mean the presence of life. The Perseverance rover that will join Curiosity in 2021 will primarily focus on finding evidence of that ancient life on Mars.