Start The Reactor: The Mars Rover Has Found An Ancient Riverbed On Mars’ Surface

Entertainment Editor
09.28.12 2 Comments

On the 39th Martian day of the Curiosity rover’s mission, it’s found evidence of a now-dried-up riverbed on Mars. The riverbed was found between the north rim of Gale Crater and the base of Mount Sharp. The rover is on its way to Mount Sharp, a location where NASA believes the rover holds a better chance of finding preserved organic material. Finding a spot where water likely flowed is a great sign.

The spot, nicknamed “Hottah”, contains something unique: gravel. The gravel ranges in size from as small as a grain of sand to as large as a golf ball, which is too large to have been transported by wind. Many of the rocks are rounded, suggesting they were worn down by long-flowing liquid. The large number of channels also suggests water was flowing there for many years.

This is the first time we’ve directly observed water-transported gravel on Mars. NASA scientist William Dietrich says, “From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep.” Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to put on our floaties and get our asses to Mars.

I’m not sure that’s really a picture of a riverbed on Earth. Where’s all the broken glass and used condoms?

[More pictures available at NASA (via Gizmodo). Banner picture made by Ed Yong.]

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When not writing for Uproxx, Caleb likes to volunteer at the legless cat shelter and photoshop the Babadook into all of his family photos. He once resolved the question “To be or not to be?” through the clever use of General Semantics. Your mom thinks you could be more like him if you only applied yourself.

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