Thursday , January 28 2021

Floods of unimaginable magnitude just washed away by Gale Crater on equatorial Mars

Gale Crater, Mars - oblique view

Side view of Gale Crater, Mars, with vertical exaggeration. The image combines elevation data from the European Space Agency’s Mars High Speed ​​Stereo Camera orbit, NASA Orbiter Mars Reconnaissance environment data, and color information from Viking Orbiter images. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech / ESA / DLR / FU Berlin / MSSS

Field geology on the equator of Mars shows the ancient Megaflood

Floods of unimaginable size were once washed away by the Gale Crater Mars“Ecuador about 4 billion years ago – a finding that suggests the existence of life there, according to data collected by NASAThe Curiosity rover was analyzed in a joint project by scientists from Jackson State University, Cornell, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawaii.

The research, “Giant Flood Deposits in the Gale Crater and Their Impact on the Early Mars Climate”, was published on November 5, 2020, in Nature Scientific reports.

The raging high fuel – probably neutralized by the heat of a meteorite impact, which released ice stored on the surface of Mars – creates giant ripples that are indicative geological structures known to scientists on Earth.

“We identified the major floods for the first time using detailed sedimentary data observed by Rover Curiosity,” said co-author Alberto G. Fairén, a visiting astrobiologist at the College of Arts and Sciences. “Deposits left behind by the major floods have not previously been identified with track data.”

As on Earth, geological features, including water and wind work, have been frozen in time on Mars for about 4 billion years. These features convey processes that have shaped the surface of both planets in the past.

Place the Sharp Inside Gale Crater on Mars

This composite false image of Mount Sharp inside the Gale Crater on Mars shows geologists a changing planetary environment. On Mars, the sky is not blue, but the image was created to look like Earth so that scientists can distinguish stratification layers. Credit: NASA / JPL

This case includes the appearance of huge waveforms in the sedimentary layers of Gale Crater, often called “megaripples” or antidunes that are about 30 feet high and about 450 feet, according to lead author Ezat Heydari, a professor of physics at Jackson State University.

The antidotes are indicative of gushing water flowing to the bottom of Mars’ Gale Crater about 4 billion years ago, which is identical to the features formed by the melting of ice on Earth about 2 million years ago, Heydari said.

The most likely cause of the Mars flood was the melting of ice by heat caused by a large impact, which released carbon dioxide and methane from the planet’s icy reservoirs. Water vapor and gas release combine to produce a brief period of hot and humid conditions on the red planet.

The condensation forms clouds of water vapor, which in turn created torrential rains, possibly planetary. This water entered the Gale Crater, then combined with water that collapsed from Mount Sharp (in the Gale Crater) to produce giant floods that set gravel ridges in the Hummocky Plains and ridge and crevice zones in the Striated Unit. .

The Curiosity rover scientific team has already proven that Gale Crater once had persistent lakes and streams in the ancient past. These long water bodies are good indicators that the crater, as well as Mount Sharp in it, were able to support microbial life.

“Early Mars was a very geologically active planet,” said Fairén. “The planet had the necessary conditions to support the presence of liquid water on the surface – and on Earth, where there is water, there is life.

“Mars was an habitable planet so early,” he said. “Did he live? This is a question that the next Perseverance ro rover will help you answer. “

The Perseverance, which started from Cape Canaveral on July 30, is scheduled to arrive on Mars on February 18, 2021.

Reference: “Deposits from huge floods in Gale Crater and their effects on the climate of early Mars” by E. Heydari, JF Schroeder, FJ Calef, J. Van Beek, SK Rowland, TJ Parker and AG Fairén, November 5, 2020, Scientific reports.
DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-020-75665-7

Featuring Fairén and Heydari on paper are Jeffrey F. Schroeder, Fred J. Calef, Jason Van Beek and Timothy J. Parker of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. and Scott K. Rowland, University of Hawaii.

Data and funding provided by NASA, Malin Space Science Systems, Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the European Research Council.

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