National and World

New Findings on Mars

December 8, 2014 1:59 pm

NEW YORK CITY– In search for environments where life may have started on Mars, the Curiosity rover has found stronger signs of life on mars, that at least some of the planet must have been habitable long ago. John P. Grotzinger of Caltech reported at a news conference on Monday that the rover’s yearlong trek to Mount Sharp provided strong new evidence that Gale Crater had large lakes, rivers and deltas, on and off, for millions to tens of millions of years.

One of the satellites that orbits Mars, the Mars Reconnaisance Orbiter, was launched in 2005 and has been orbiting the planet since 2006. This satellite sent back an image of what appeared to look like a wart on Dec. 3, 2014. NASA refers to the “wart” as an enigmatic feature in the Athabascan lava flows. This circular enigma is about 1.2 miles across and is similar to an island surrounded by smooth lava flows.

“As a science team, Mars is looking very attractive to us as a habitable planet,” Dr. Grotzinger said in an interview. “Not just sections of Gale Crater and not just a handful of locations, but at different times around the globe.”

In order to better determine if Mars could be inhabitable by humans, scientists have long called for a mission to bring rock and soil samples back to Earth for a more sophisticated analysis. The Mars mission scheduled for 202 would begin the effort by experimenting with methods to select, life, and store promising samples.