May 31, 2017 12:03 PM EDT
Recently, NASA's Curiosity rover found the presence of Silica in a special kind of Pale bedrock called halos around fractures near Gale Crater on Mars. However, this migrated silica indicates the strong evidence of the presence of potentially habitable lake-and-stream system in this area at the ancient time of the Red planet.
In geology, bedrock is the lithified rock that lies under a loose softer material called regolith at the surface of the Earth or other terrestrial planets. The elevated silica in halos was found over approximately 20 to 30 meters in elevation near a rock layer of ancient lake sediments that had high silica content. According to Los Alamos National Laboratory's Jens Frydenvang, the concentration of silica is very high at the centerlines of these halos.
Additionally, he informed that halos are younger rocks overlying the silicon enriched sedimentary bedrock from an ancient lake. Afterward, these silicon sediments from the old sedimentary rocks remobilized and migrated to the younger rock by water flowing through the fractures. The main objective of Curiosity is to find the habitability of Mars where this discovery has been very successfully proved that Gale crater once held a lake with water which is sustainable for life.
However, researcher believed that the water in the lake was potentially drinkable once, which eventually evaporates in later times. From a comprehensive analysis in the Geophysical Research Letters, researcher presumes that when the lake eventually evaporated, substantial amounts of groundwater were present for much longer than the previous expectation.
In fact, this new study buttresses by an another latest discovery made by a different group led by Los Alamos scientist who found boron on Mars for the first time. Boron is a crucial element which indicates the potential for long-term habitable groundwater in the planet's past.
In this study Curiosity used onboard laser-shooting Chemistry and Camera or ChemCam instrument to analyze the sediments from halos. For this exploration, Curiosity already has traveled more than 16 km over more than 1,700 sols (Martian days). Recently, scientists are collecting all the data and pictures from this ChemCam instrument for further analysis of the geological history of Mars.
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