NASA's Curiosity rover has discovered what looked like drying mud cracks that could possibly prove wetter conditions on Mars.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that the Curiosity rover recently found potential evidence of ancient lakes on Mars. Once proven, the discovery would support what NASA scientists hypothesized about the Red Planet's wetter conditions prior to the long periods of drought.
"The ancient lakes varied in depth and extent over time, and sometimes disappeared," said Curiosity project scientist Ashwin Vasavada from at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Vasavada added that the team had seen "more evidence of dry intervals between what had been mostly a record of long-lived lakes."
According to researchers, the cracked layer of the terrain, which had been covered by sediment prior to erosion, may have been formed billions of years ago.
"It looks like what you'd see beside the road where muddy ground has dried and cracked," said Curiosity science team member Nathan Stein. "Even from a distance, we could see a pattern of four- and five-sided polygons that don't look like fractures we've seen previously with Curiosity."
The recent findings may shed light on Mars' habitability. However, the new data show that the Red Planet continues to go down further on the negative. The rover travels about 30 feet per hour depending on its power supply as well as the visibility, steepness, slippage and other features of the Martian surface. It has been treading the Red Planet and drilling rocks for geological data since 2012, thus showing signs of malfunction and weariness.
According to NASA, the Curiosity mission was designed for a decade-long probe. However, scientists at Mars Science Laboratory are now hoping it could survive further uphill investigations. Despite the rover's glitches, investigators still continue to receive more details to provide precise conclusions on the planet's habitability.
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