Published on September 27th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson0
NASA’s Curiosity Shows Scientists An Ancient River Steambed
We are only at the start of NASA’s adventure on Mars as they live vicariously through their Curiosity rover and its exploration of the red planet but already scientists are discovering new and interesting stuff.
While we have known for a long time that the planet is rich with channels that seemed to indicate that water once flowed on the surface Curiosity has streamed back images to scientists that shows the gravel that lays at the bottom of one channel in the Gale Crater. Now you or I might just shrug our shoulders and think that meh, it’s just gravel, but to scientists like William Dietrich that gravel tells him that the stream would have been flowing at about three feet per second and could have been anywhere from ankle deep to up around your hips.
With the information gleaned from those images the scientists studying them can tell by the gravel’s round shape that they had traveled a fair distance and that it most likely came from above the rim of the crater. They are also pretty sure due to the number of channels seen in the images that water was flowing quite frequently.
The rounded shape of the gravel also confirms that the it was carried by water, not wind. NASA says that it might use Curiosity to examine the material holding the outcrop of rocks together as well as the composition of the gravel discovered embedded in the streambed. In doing so, it will give scientists a broader picture of the regional geography, and Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist John Grotzinger says that NASA may have “already found our first potentially habitable environment,” on the surface of Mars. That is definitely exciting, and we’re looking forward to hearing more about Curiosity’s mission soon.
I second that emotion.
Rock on Curiosity!