Monday, June 27, 2016

Ancient Mars Was Even More Earth-Like Than We Imagined

Artist’s impression of what Mars looked like billions of years ago. (Image: Ittiz)

New findings from NASA’s Curiosity Rover provide evidence that significant amounts of oxygen once permeated the atmosphere of ancient Mars. The Red Planet, it would seem, was more Earth-like than we thought.

Using the ChemCam instrument atop Curiosity, scientists at the Los Alamos National Laboratory have discovered high levels of manganese oxides in Martian rocks. The rover made the discovery in mineral-filled cracks in sandstones in the Kimberley region of Gale crater. The presence of this chemical element suggests that high levels of free-floating oxygen once existed on Mars, and that in addition to having a warmer climate and lakes of liquid water, this planet was once quite Earth-like in terms of its chemical composition.

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