The Curiosity probe has been studying the geology and climate of the Red Planet since 2012, and during this period scientists believed that it was studying the bottom of an ancient lake on Mars.
And Science Advances notes that scientists base their choice of landing site on data they get from orbit. They chose the bottom of a lake for the probe’s landing, in the belief that it would reveal whether life once arose in the lake’s water. But it became clear to scientists that for nine years the probe did not study the bottom of the lake.
Researchers from Hong Kong analyzed the chemical elements in the soil samples collected by the probe during these years, and concluded that the wind brought it to this place, and then it hardened under the influence of weather factors, that is, not from under the water layer, as the scientists believed.
The researchers believe that the bulk of these samples are sedimentary rocks of dust and volcanic ash, which were carried by winds, and later exposed to erosion factors such as rain or melting ice. However some samples correspond to those that can be found at the bottom of the lake.
From this, the researchers conclude that the water cover in the Gale Crater in which the probe operates was more variable than expected. That is, they suggest changing the theory of the “big lake” in the Gale Crater, to the theory of temporary small lakes, which appeared there from time to time.
Based on these results, the researchers suggest reconsidering old perceptions about the formation of the Red Planet’s climate. For example, over millions of years, periods of high humidity were short and cyclical. Currently, scientists tend to believe that the climate on the Red Planet was humid during one long period of time.
Source: Vesti. Ro
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