Ancient Mars had long-lasting lakes of liquid water

Rocks sampled by the Curiosity rover suggest that Gale Crater once contained liquid water lakes that endured for potentially thousands of years at a time, shown in this artist’s illustration.

JPL-Caltech/NASA, ESA, DLR, FU Berlin, MSSS

Large lakes once wet the Martian landscape for thousands of years at a time, new evidence suggests.

Last year, NASA scientists reported that Gale Crater, currently home to the Curiosity rover, was once filled with liquid water. Analyzing sediments and signs of erosion, Curiosity mission scientists report in the Oct. 9Science that ancient lakes on the Red Planet stuck around for at least 100 to 10,000 years.

While relatively short-lived by Earth standards, the lingering lakes potentially lasted long enough to support life, the researchers say.

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