The red planet had fresh water puddle on its surface around 4 billion years ago, as revealed by NASA Mars Opportunity Rover upon analyzing some of the oldest minerals. The same facts have been confirmed by the Curiosity, the newcomer collecting data on the other side of the planet. Planetary scientist Ray Arvidson, with Washington University in St. Louis said,the pool of water was so fresh that could have sustained all life forms.
10 years back, Opportunity rover along with its twin, Spirit landed on the Mars, on a 90 days mission to look for sign of water existing in the past. The evidence collected by both of the rovers suggested that Mars was not cold, dry desert as it is today, but was much more similar to Earth.
In August 2012, Curiosity decked with chemistry lab, landed on Mars with a mission to find the traces of other crucial life supporting elements. Simultaneously on the other side of the red planet, Opportunity was examining rocks laded with water present at the edge of the crater popularly known as Endeavour.
Opportunity found telltale clays known as smectites, which is formed in Ph neutral water, unlike acidic, salty water that was found at sites analyzed in the past.
Scientists with these findings suggest that for the initial billion years or so the planet was warmer with its surface covered with puddle of fresh water unlike the atmosphere of today. And around 3 billion years ago, the water movement reduced due to which the Mars began to dry and whatever was left turned acidic.
Opportunity lead scientist Steve Squyres, with Cornell University in New York said,
Most of the activity on Mars in terms of habitability and water activity was concentrated in the first billion or so years.
Opportunity in the coming time will explore richer store of clay-bearing rocks present near the ridge on the margin of Endeavour Crater and Curiosity, which is exploring an area known as Gale Crater, will move near a three-mile high summit of layered sediments.
Scientists are planning to study the rocks present at different surface levels to analyze for how long the planet was habitable, but where surroundings might be suitable to preserve important clues such as organic carbon. With more investigations, more facts that are surprising would be revealed in the near future.
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