NASA’s Curiosity Rover has discovered wave-rippled rocks on Mars, providing evidence of an ancient lake on the Red Planet. The discovery was made in a relatively dry area of the planet and is being hailed as the “best evidence of water and waves” seen in the mission so far.
Exploring the Foothills of Mount Sharp
The rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet since 2012, sent back stunning images of rocks with rippled patterns that are believed to have been created by the waves of a shallow lake billions of years ago. The discovery is particularly surprising because the area that the rover is exploring was believed to be becoming dryer at the time when the lake was present. NASA’s Curiosity Rover Uncovers Metal on Mars.
The foothills of the three-mile tall Mount Sharp are being explored by the Curiosity Rover. The mountain is providing a “Martian timeline” to scientists, with the oldest layers at the bottom and the youngest at the top. This is allowing them to study how Mars evolved from a warmer, water-rich planet in its ancient past to the freezing desert it is today.
Recent Evidence of Water by Curiosity Rover
Debris from wet landslides on Mount Sharp was also spotted by the rover in the valley, providing the most recent evidence of water on Mars. According to project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, “This landslide debris is probably the most recent evidence of water that we’ll ever see. It will allow us to study layers higher up on Mount Sharp that we can’t reach.”
Previous evidence of water on Mars was discovered by the rover in the form of salty minerals left behind when the area dried up. However, the discovery of the wave-rippled rocks provides even clearer evidence of the presence of water on the Red Planet.