NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars sent some photos that show an interesting phenomenon. They display something looking like mud cracks that may serve as more evidence supporting the claim that once Mars hosted water, thus being possible for it to have had life forms.
Curiosity identified on the surface of Mars some rock formations that might be ancient mud cracks, relics showing the former presence of water on the red planet. When the soil dried, it was preserved in a fractured state under several layers of rocks.
The bizarre formations were spotted at the bottom of Mount Sharp, a place the scientists nicknamed ‘Old Soaker’ after noticing these patterns that they had not observed before on Mars. They said it looked like dried and cracked muddy ground.
They suggest that the muddy layer was formed more than 3 billion years ago, after the ancient lakes on Mars dried up. These cracks were covered by stratified sediment which hardened into layers of rock and then were revealed by wind erosion. Moreover, scientists think that the cracks got filled with a material that better resisted the wind erosion, and this explains their ridgy aspect.
On the surface, this material might have been dust or sand blown by the wind, but after the covering rocks layered over, the cracks might have been filled with Martian groundwater of which scientists have recently discovered proof.
After the analysis performed by Curiosity, scientists discovered signs of both materials in the cracks. This means that the site is a display of a historical cycle of lake activity. They know that Martian lakes varied in depth and extent over time, and even disappeared. The display of cracks comes as evidence that these lakes occasionally went dry.
In August 2012, Curiosity landed on Mars, not far away from Mount Sharp. Since then, it has continuously explored the Martian surface. However, the little rover experienced some technical difficulties and NASA are afraid for it might crash right now when they have made so many impressive discoveries.
They are hoping to fix Curiosity as soon as possible, since they aim to search for possible microbial life that might have been supported by the presence of water. Also, they want to find out how the conditions on Mars changed so much that it turned into a dry and lifeless planet.