Ancient Mars Lake Had Multiple Environments That Might Have Supported Life

The lake that once filled much of Mars’ huge Gale Crater featured multiple potentially habitable environments segregated by depth, as some water bodies here on Earth do, a new study based on observations by NASA’s Curiosity rover suggests.

The car-size Curiosity rover touched down inside the 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater in August 2012, on a mission to determine if the region has ever been capable of supporting microbial life.

Curiosity quickly hit pay dirt, finding lots of evidence that Gale harbored a possibly habitable lake-and-stream system in the ancient past. Further observations by the rover have revealed that this system likely lasted from about 3.8 billion years ago to 3.1 billion years ago, though it’s unclear if surface water was present continuously during that stretch.


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