Semiarid climate and hyposaline lake on early Mars inferred from reconstructed water chemistry at Gale

Journal: Nature Communications

Published: 2019-10-25

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-019-12871-6

Affiliations: 5

Authors: 5

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Research Highlight

Mars rover pores over ancient lakes

© Steven Hobbs/Stocktrek Images/Getty

© Steven Hobbs/Stocktrek Images/Getty

The Curiosity rover has dug up evidence that suggests life-supporting water bodies once existed on Mars.

Water properties such as salinity, acidity and gas content reveal a lot about the surrounding environment. When the water disappears, it leaves its chemical imprint on the surrounding sediment, providing a snapshot of the past.

A team that included researchers from Kanazawa University in Japan studied the chemical properties of the inside surfaces of pores in clay sediments from Gale Crater on Mars. They found that the water would have been slightly less salty than seawater on Earth, but much saltier than freshwater, closely resembling lakes found in semi-arid regions.

Modelling of the geochemical reactions that could generate such properties suggested that they could arise from lake sediments interacting with groundwater rising from beneath the crater.

This adds to the growing evidence that Mars could be habitable.

Supported content

  1. Nature Communications 10, 4896 (2019). doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12871-6
Institutions Share
Kanazawa University (KU), Japan 0.50
Research Center for Functional Materials (RCFM), NIMS, Japan 0.20
Harvard University, United States of America (USA) 0.20
Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech), Japan 0.10