Curiosity rover finds ancient streambed on Mars

Elevation map showing the ancient streambed called Peace Vallis, where it cut through the rim of Gale crater and emptied into the crater floor. The rover’s landing site is marked by the +. Click for larger image. Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech

One of the primary reasons that Gale crater was chosen as the landing spot for the Curiosity rover was that it contains rich sedimentary deposits; old dried-up channels can be seen cutting through the crater rim, where the once-flowing water left behind alluvial fan deposits of gravel on the crater floor.

The channels and deposits could be easily seen in orbital photographs taken of the area. It was hoped that Curiosity would be able to confirm this from in-situ examination of the terrain here, and it has done just that.

Not only was there water here, but it was a fast-moving stream up to about hip-deep according to the new studies done by the rover, and reported yesterday in a NASA press briefing.

See Examiner.com for the full article and slideshow.

Paul Scott Anderson is a freelance space writer with a life-long passion for space exploration and astronomy. He started his blog The Meridiani Journal in 2005, which is a chronicle of planetary exploration. He also publishes The Exoplanet Report e-paper. In 2011, he started writing about space on a freelance basis, and now also currently write for AmericaSpace and Examiner.com. He has also written for Universe Today and SpaceFlight Insider, has been published in The Mars Quarterly and has done supplementary writing for the well-known iOS app Exoplanet for iPhone and iPad.