mclauglin crater mars mro NASA discovers Mars may once have had groundwater fed lake

NASA has found evidence of a wet underground environment on Mars, giving scientists a better understanding of the early evolution of the Red Planet.

NASA has found evidence of a wet underground environment on Mars, giving scientists a better understanding of the early evolution of the Red Planet.

 
Data collected from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests that the 57 mile wide and 1.4 mile deep McLaughlin Crater once allowed underground water to flow into the crater's interior.
 
The information reveals that there are layered, flat rocks at the bottom of the crater, which contain carbonate and day minerals that form in the present of water, while there are small channels in the crater's wall that could mark the surface of a lake.
 
The findings, which are published in the latest edition of Nature Geoscience, could have meant the environment was habitable, according to NASA scientists.
 
mclauglin crater mars mro NASA discovers Mars may once have had groundwater fed lake
This view of layered rocks on the floor of McLaughlin Crater shows sedimentary rocks that contain spectroscopic evidence for minerals formed through interaction with water. The High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter recorded the image. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona
 
“A number of studies using CRISM data have shown rocks exhumed from the subsurface by meteor impact were altered early in Martian history, most likely by hydrothermal fluids,” said Joseph Michalski, lead author of the paper. “These fluids trapped in the subsurface could have periodically breached the surface in deep basins such as McLaughlin Crater, possibly carrying clues to subsurface habitability.”
 
NASA has been exploring Mars for years in hopes of finding water on the planet, which many consider to be the closest thing to an Earth environment within an achievable space travel distance. A recent study of a Martian asteroid showed large amounts of water, but these latesting findings suggest Mars could have had very large bodies of water all over the planet.
 
"This new report and others are continuing to reveal a more complex Mars than previously appreciated, with at least some areas more likely to reveal signs of ancient life than others," said Rich Zurek of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a member of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter project.
 
The fact that this lake was underground presents the tantalising possibility that there could be other sources of water still on the planet that are hidden from plain sight.