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Ancient Lake Bed Discovered on Mars

A dusty, desolate place, Mars is as inhospitable as you’d imagine.Scientific findings suggest that Mars had a water supply.
According to new findings, however, that hasn’t always been the case. Recently, NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered an enormous crater on the red planet, which was once a huge lake of water that may have been able to support microbial life some millions of years ago.

Convincing Geographic Evidence

Stumbling upon the discovery within Mars’ 96-mile-wide Gale Crater, curiosity quickly identified some compelling features that have scientists speculating about a much wetter time in the planet’s history. At numerous locations, the rover found beds of sandstone, which indicate deltas where rivers once emptied into lakes. Scientists also received enough data to estimate the age of the lake’s age at millions of years, giving it plenty of time to nurture microbial life.

Just a Drop in the Bucket

Based on their findings, scientists believe this lake was not alone. In fact, evidence suggests it was a part of a larger system of alluvial fans, deltas, and lakes that formed a connected system of waterways. If correct, this would suggest Mars was a very different place 3.5 billion years ago, when a much thicker atmosphere may have supported a warmer, wetter environment.

What Happened to the Water?

While scientists aren’t exactly sure what happened to all of Mars’ water, they speculate that it was sucked up into space, once the planet began losing its atmosphere. That being said, many believe that there could still be considerable amounts of water lurking deep beneath the planet’s surface.

Are There Lessons to Be Learned?

While Earth’s atmosphere won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, there are lessons to be learned from Mars’ evolution. Most importantly, the red planet reveals the critical importance of water for sustaining plant, animal, and human life. While no one knows for sure why Mars’ water disappeared, it’s easy to see that Earth’s water is under threat from waste, along with industrial and agricultural pollution. With this in mind, it’s critical that we continue to invest in sustainable water use and eco-friendly water systems to preserve this essential natural resource for generations to come.

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