NASA's Curiosity rover in early 2017 found cracks on the surface of Mars which made it evident that lakes were present on their surface. A new study has now confirmed that these lakes probably dried about 3.5 billion years ago. The conclusion has successfully revealed the details about the red planet's ancient climate. Lead author of the study is Nathaniel Stein who is a geologist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, US said that they are now confident that these are definitely mudcracks.
Desiccation mud cracks are formed only when wet sediment is exposed to air. The position of these cracks also signifies that lake levels rose and fell over time. The lakes in Gale Crater might have gone through same cycles as those that happen on the Earth as revealed by Stein. The paper was published in the journal Geology. Stein explained that the curiosity around the ancient lacustrine system and more has been building since the start of the mission and this research work is just a chapter in the story. To base the study, the team used a coffee table-sized slab of rock which they nicknamed as 'Old Soaker'. This slab of rock is crisscrossed with polygons that look as identical in appearance to the dessication features on Earth. The study concluded that the polygons formed from exposure of air rather than other mechanism such as hydraulic or thermal filling.
By: Neha Maheshwari