Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Curiosity discovers an ancient freshwater lake, "Proof more ... - 20minutes.fr

freshwater lake existed on Mars. U.S. probe Curiosity found on the surface of the red planet direct evidence of its existence, scientists announced Monday.

Favorable microbial life and Conditions

no more water present in this place, but drill testing and chemical analysis performed by the robot Curiosity on dense rocks suggest that conditions were once in place to enable this lake to harbor microbial life. The analyzed rocks indeed contain traces of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur and “provide the ideal conditions for a basic microbial life,” says the study whose results are published in the journal science.

rocks are between 3.5 and 3.6 billion years

If any life form was detected in the rocks, the robot has made drilling fragments of sandstone and mudstone and there discovered clay minerals suggesting an interaction with water. “These are relatively young rocks in the Martian history,” said Professor Grotzinger reporters in San Francisco, noting that one of the “surprising results” discovered was that these rocks could be between 3.5 and 3.6 billion years. “This coincides precisely with accuracy the oldest traces of life found on Earth.”

“This is the first time we truly find rocks on Mars that provide evidence of the existence of lakes”, welcomed for its part Sanjeev Gupta, a professor at Imperial College London, co -author of this work.

“The most telling evidence”

Arrived in Gale Crater on the Martian equator Aug. 6, 2012, Curiosity, the rover with six wheels, the most sophisticated ever sent to another planet, has already established that the red planet was suitable for life microbial in the distant past, which was the main objective of his two-year mission. These results provide “the most telling evidence that Mars was at one time the necessary conditions for life grows there,” the study said.

Seeking further evidence

The next step is to analyze specimens from a thick pile of rocks on the surface of the crater to gather more evidence of a habitable environment, noted Professor Gupta. These new findings are “a huge technical advance” and they “give us confidence in the future of this mission and that we must continue to explore” the red planet, has he added.

A. L

with AFP

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