Pic water that flowed from the surface of the Red Planet caused mud formation that was spotted by the Curiosity rover of NASA, scientists have verified.
The fractures were discovered last year while the robot was taking pictures of the Gale Center. It is an area that is a 3.5 billion-year-old, experts believe. It is a lake bed that stretches for about 154 kilometers across. But now it is dried up.
The machine was specially tailored to focus on Old Soaker (ruck dubbed with a size similar to a coffee table). The images indicated the formation of lines as well as marks. But scientists said that they are cracks.
Nathaniel Stein, a geologist at the California Institute of Technology (CIT) and a lead author of a photographs study, said that they are confident that the formations are mud cracks. These formed when moisture in the planet vaporized into the atmosphere. The moisture comes from the wet sediment. Earlier this week, there was a published paper about the Old Soaker in the journal Geology.
When it comes to the concentration of the mud cracks in the crater’s center, it will be of great use for working out how the level of water in the lake changed over a long period. Stein said that the mud cracks show in the Gale Crater lakes had gone thru a similar kind of cycles here on Earth.
All the images were captured by Curiosity’s Mastcam, which is a stereoscopic imaging tool. It works very well on a wide array of wavelengths. Aside from that, there are approximately 17 cameras aboard the rover, including the Mars Hand Lens Imager. Without such awesome instruments, the cracks would never be discovered and studied by scientists shortly.
The researchers examined the shapes as well as the cracks in the rock. They also analyzed its chemical contents with the use of the Alpha-Particle X-Ray spectrometer and ChemCam (a breakdown spectrometer that is laser-induced).
Stein also said that the mud cracks are exciting as they provide another insight into the ancient lacustrine system. They considered themselves much fortunate as they were able to capture the moment in time. Furthermore, their research will be just a chapter of the story that Curiosity’s Mastcam has been building since the start of the mission. They also expect other cool mysteries in the coming decades.