Mars Rover Finds Gravel Left by 'Vigorous' Stream
[An Nahar] NASA's Mars rover has discovered gravel once carried by the waters of an ancient stream that "ran vigorously" through the area, the U.S. space agency said Thursday.
Scientists had previously found other evidence of the one-time presence of water on the Red Planet, but this is the first time stream bed gravel has been discovered.
The rocky Hottah outcrop looks "like someone jack-hammered up a slab of city sidewalk, but it's really a tilted block of an ancient stream bed," project scientist John Grotzinger said in a statement.
The Curiosity rover, which has been exploring Mars since early August, also investigated a second outcrop known as Link.
The pictures transmitted by Curiosity show the pebbles have been cemented into layers of conglomerate rock at a site between the north rim of the Gale Crater and the base of Mount Sharp, where Curiosity is heading.
The sizes and the shapes of the rocks give an idea of the speed and the depth of the stream, NASA said.
"The shapes tell you they were transported, and the sizes tell you they couldn't be transported by wind. They were transported by water flow," said Curiosity scientist Rebecca Williams.
Scientists estimate the water was moving at a brisk pace of three feet per second, somewhere between ankle and hip deep.
"This is the first time we're actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars," said Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley.
Posted by: Fred