The surface of Mars is a cold desert, but billions of years ago there was an oasis, according to new research done by NASA's Rover Curiosity. One mystery remains: was there life?
Using data from the aforementioned rover, the scientists concluded that the Gale Crater, about 154.5 kilometers wide and 5.5 deep, was filled with saltwater 3 and a half billion years ago. The discovery provides a glimpse into the history of the Red Planet at a time when Mars may have had a living world.
Created from the impact of a huge asteroid, the Gale Crater is a real-time capsule of a changing Mars. It is an ideal place to explore the planet's prehistoric past.
One part of the crater, called Old Soaker, contains perhaps the clearest evidence of an ancient oasis, leaving traces of a lake bottom with dried, cracked mud. Scientists believe the region has gone through periods of humidity and drought before today's state finally comes to an end.
It is best to imagine what the oasis of Mars looked like if you look at some places on Earth with a similar geostructure. These are the salt lakes on the heights of South America, more precisely in Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Argentina, which should look similar to that ancient Martian lake.