New Mars rover to land in intriguing giant crater

New Mars rover to land in intriguing giant crater
This undated image made available by NASA shows Mars' Gale Crater, looking south. The formation is 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter and holds a layered mountain rising about 3 miles (5 kilometers) above the crater floor. (AP Photo/NASA)

The latest Mars destination is a giant crater near the equator with an odd feature: a mountain rising from the crater floor.

How did it get there?

Gale Crater was gouged by a more than 3 billion years ago. Over time, scientists believe sediments filled in the 96-mile (155-kilometer)-wide crater and winds sculpted the 3-mile (4.8-kilometer)-high mountain, called .

Mount Sharp's stack of can be read like pages in a storybook with older deposits at the base and more recent material the higher up you go, providing a record of Mars history through time.

Images from space reveal signs of water in the lower layers of the mountain, including mineral signatures of clays and sulfate salts, which form in the presence of water. Life as we know it needs more than just water. It also needs nutrients and energy.

During its two-year mission, the NASA rover Curiosity will trek to the lower flanks of the mountain in search of the carbon-based building blocks of life.


Explore further

The strange attraction of Gale crater

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Citation: New Mars rover to land in intriguing giant crater (2012, August 4) retrieved 23 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2012-08-mars-rover-intriguing-giant-crater.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Aug 05, 2012
Interesting, but more information please!

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more