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Mars had more water for longer than previously thought, shows NASA’s Curiosity Rover

For over a decade, NASA’s Curiosity rover has been traversing Mars’ Gale Crater, scrutinizing its surface minerals. Recent findings by an international team led by Imperial College London suggest that Mars might have retained more water for longer than previously thought.

Unusual formations discovered within the crater’s rocks and sediment, particularly in unexpected locations, have piqued scientists’ interest. These findings offer a unique opportunity to compare Mars’ geological evolution with Earth’s.

Dr. Steven Banham, the study’s lead author, expressed surprise at the abundance of water inferred from the rock formations. According to him, these formations, which exhibit evidence of water, are among the youngest features within the crater, implying the presence of water more recently than previously assumed.

Analyses of sandstone structures within the Gale Crater have provided compelling evidence of prolonged water presence on Mars. These structures, formed by water-related processes, challenge earlier assumptions about the timing of water disappearance on the planet.

The discoveries prompt reconsideration of Mars’ environmental conditions, suggesting similarities with Earth’s conditions during the same period. Banham noted that while Mars dried out around 3 billion years ago, approximately coinciding with the emergence of life on Earth, the potential for life on Mars might have persisted for longer than previously believed.

These findings could guide future efforts to search for signs of past life on Mars. Despite expectations that the Curiosity rover’s mission would conclude long ago, it continues to operate, promising further revelations about the Red Planet’s mysteries for years to come.

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