Gale Crater on Mars used to contain a lake, or series of lakes, a few billion years ago. Streams once emptied into that lake. Now, new evidence from the Curiosity rover suggests that giant floods also once washed through this region. Computer-generated image via Flickr user Kevin Gill. See more of Kevin’s computer graphics depicting Martian lakes and rivers.
NASA’s Curiosity rover has been exploring Gale Crater on Mars since 2012. In that time, it’s confirmed that a lake – or series of lakes, and flowing streams – existed there a few billion years ago. It’s more evidence that Mars was once a wetter and much more habitable environment than it is today. On November 18, 2020, scientists announced a new study based on an analysis of Curiosity’s data that has yielded another glimpse into Gale Crater’s past: megafloods. They are giant floods, likely caused by a meteorite impact, that washed through the crater with incredible power, leaving behind ripples that can still be seen today.
The researchers – at Cornell University, Jackson State University, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and the University of Hawaii – published the new peer-reviewed findings in Scientific Reports on November 5, 2020.
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