Surprise! NASA's Curiosity Mission makes awesome new discovery on Mars

NASA’s Curiosity Mission has found clues of the Red Planet's ancient watery history.

| Updated on: Feb 11 2023, 12:12 IST
Top NASA tech that solved Mars myths and mysteries like never before
1/10 Humans have been studying Mars for hundred of years. In 1609, Galileo was the first person to peer through a telescope and get a more intimate image of what many could only have dreamed of. (Pixabay)
2/10 An up close and personal view of the red planet emerged as time progressed and so did the capabilities of telescopes. In fact, from the late 1800s to the mid 1900s, many astronomers believed that Mars was home to majestic seas and lush areas of vegetation. The Dark markings on Mars surface were once believed to be caused by vegetation growing and dying. (Pixabay)
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3/10 Some even believed that intelligent life existed on Mars just because of what they saw through their simple telescopes. But that is exactly was science is about-you make educated guesses based on what you know, then change your ideas based on what you learn. (NASA)
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4/10 Now, thanks to new sophisticated equipment and robotic visits to Mars, it turns out they were caused by Martian wind. It was not until the 1960s, when NASA's Mariner missions flew by and snapped pictures of Mars that many of the myths about the red planet were dispelled. (NASA)
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5/10 That does not make Mars any less interesting. The possibility that life actually existed once on Mars is still a distinct possibility. Or it may even be existing on Mars today! No, not in the form of little green men, but on a microbial level. (NASA)
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6/10 Now, taking pictures is great and all. But nothing is better than getting to know the real thing. So, to get a better feel of Mars, Scientists and engineers built some nifty technologies, from spacecrafts to reach Mars and rovers (vehicles) to actually trundle and explore the planet. (NASA/JPL)
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7/10 Among the earliest tech deployed for Mars was Phoenix. It was launched on August 4, 2007 and so began its 9-month long, 681 Million km journey to the legendary red planet. Now, landing on a planet is not as easy as simply dropping a spacecraft onto it. There is actually a lot of steps to the process. (NASA)
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8/10 On May 25, 2008, Phoenix entered Mars atmosphere. It used its heat shield to slow down the high speed entry of 5600 meters per second or around 12500 miles per hour. It released a supersonic PARACHUTE, then detached from its parachute and used its rocket engines to land safely on the planet's surface. Phoenix' landing spot was further north and closer to the ice covered poles than any spacecraft has ever been before. (NASA)
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9/10 Phoenix had two primary goals: One was to study the history of water in the Martian arctic and the other was to search for evidence of a habitual zone and assess the biological potential of the ice soil boundary. And to do that the spacecraft was packed full of gizmos and gadgets to perform all sets of experiments and tests. One of these gizmos was a robotic arm with a shovel attached. It was used to dig up samples of the martian soil for experiments! (NASA)
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10/10 Another top tech on the Mars surface was the Surface Stereo Imager, which is really just a fancy name for the camera. Three surface stereo imagers were Phoenix' eye. Engineers built the device with two optical lenses that would allow for a three dimensional view, just like our eyes. And the SSI sent back some amazing images of the martian landscape. (Source: NASA/Justin Tully) (NASA)
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The NASA Curiosity rover made unexpected findings regarding water history on Mars. (NASA)

After working over a decade on the Martian surface, NASA's Curiosity rover has finally made an unexpected discovery about the presence of water on the planet. So far, Curiosity rover has made several significant discoveries, one of which was the presence of rippled rock textures in an area of ancient Mars that was believed to be dry. The scientists believed that the "sulfate-bearing unit," where the rover arrived last fall, would not have any evidence of lakes because the rock layers there were formed in a drier environment compared to other areas explored during the mission. The sulfates in this region, which are salt minerals, were believed to have formed when water was slowly evaporating.

However, the Curiosity team was taken aback when they discovered the clearest indication yet of ancient water ripples that were formed within lakes. Billions of years ago, the waves on the surface of a shallow lake caused sediment to be stirred up at the bottom, which eventually resulted in rippled textures being imprinted into the rock.

Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity's project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California said, “This is the best evidence of water and waves that we've seen in the entire mission. We climbed through thousands of feet of lake deposits and never saw evidence like this – and now we found it in a place we expected to be dry.” The Curiosity rover has been exploring the foothills of Mount Sharp, a towering mountain that once stood amidst streams and lakes, in search of Mars' aquatic history. The mountain measures three miles in height.

NASA says that "Mount Sharp is made up of layers, with the oldest at the bottom of the mountain and the youngest at the top." Another intriguing discovery in the Marker Band that has captured the attention of the team is an uncommon rock texture that is believed to have been caused by a repeating cycle in the weather or climate, such as dust storms.

NASA's Curiosity Rover

NASA's Curiosity Rover is a car-sized robotic rover that was launched by NASA in 2011 as part of the Mars Science Laboratory mission. The rover's primary goal is to explore the Gale Crater on Mars and determine if the planet has ever had the right conditions to support microbial life.

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First Published Date: 11 Feb, 12:12 IST