Curiosity travels through old Martian glaciers

3,500 million years ago the Martian Gale crater, where the Curiosity rover now moves, was covered with glaciers, especially in its central mountain. Cold water also flowed through the rivers and lakes of the lower areas, in landscapes similar to those that can be found today in Iceland or Alaska. This is reflected in an analysis of the images taken by the ships that orbit the red planet.

Today marks a Martian year (687 Earth days) of the Curiosity rover's mission. The NASA. The vehicle travels through an arid and reddish landscape, but in the past it has glaciers. The ancient hydrogeological cycles of Mars were very cold, so much so that they favored the presence of a gigantic ocean partially covered with ice and surrounded by glaciers in the lowlands of the northern hemisphere.

Now, an international team of researchers confirms that global evidence on a local scale, right on the surface of the red planet that runs through Curiosity: the Gale crater. "This was covered by glaciers about 3,500 million years ago, and they were particularly extensive over its central mountain, Aeolis," says lead author Alberto Fairén, a scientist at the Center for Astrobiology (INTA-CSIC) and Cornell University. in the USA

"But at that time there were also rivers and lakes with very cold liquid water in the areas of lower elevation inside the crater," adds the researcher, who highlights the fact that ancient Mars was able to "maintain large amounts of liquid water - an essential element for life - at the same time that huge masses of ice covered extensive regions of its surface".

To conduct the study, which publishes the magazine Planetary and Space Science, the team has used the images captured with the HiRISE and CTX cameras of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, next to the HRSC that carries the Mars Express probe from the Europ Space Agency ea (ESA).





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