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'Halos' Found In Gale Crater On Mars May Indicate Potential For Life

First Posted: Jun 01, 2017 04:58 AM EDT
Halos On Mars Could Mean A Longer Life-Friendly Past
Scientists found "halos" on the planet Mars that could mean potential for life might have existed.
(Photo : Los Alamos National Lab/YouTube screenshot)

Scientists have discovered higher concentration of silica known as "halos." They are found in Gale Crater on Mars and suggest that these might have a potential for life.

The findings of the discovery were printed in Geophysical Research Letters. The study was led by Jens Frydenvang from Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Copenhagen and other colleagues. The scientists said that "halos" indicate that the planet Mars had water much longer than previously thought, according to CBS Pittsburgh.

NASA's Curiosity rover has found "halos" of silica-rich bedrock near the floor of Gale Crater. They are covering ancient lake sediments that have a high silica content. Curiosity used its cameras, laser-firing Chemistry, X-ray spectrometer and Camera instrument to examine the "halos." The rover found these lying on the lower north slope of Mount Sharp, which is a 3.4-mile-high (5.5 km) mountain that rises out of Gale Crater's center, according to Space.com.

Frydenvang said that the concentration of silica is very high at the centerlines of these halos. The silica found in halos in younger rocks was like remobilized from the old sedimentary rocks by water flowing in the fractures, added Frydenvang.

He further said that this discovery indicates that even when the lake ultimately evaporated, substantial amounts of groundwater were present for much longer than previously believed. With this, a potential for life on the planet Mars could have existed.

Curiosity rover has been exploring Mount Sharp's foothills since September 2014. It examines the rock layers and other sediments of the Red Planet. The rover has journeyed over 10 miles (16 km) on the surface of the planet Mars. It continually pursues its mission to find potential life on the Red Planet. 

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