Mars Rover Finds Evidence of 'Very Earth-Like' Lake
It might have supported life for millions of years
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Dec 9, 2013 3:30 PM CST
This Feb 3, 2013 image provided by NASA shows a self portrait of the Mars rover, Curiosity.   (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – The Curiosity rover has discovered evidence of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars that was brimming with the key chemicals necessary to support microbial life, and its findings suggest that it could have held that life more recently than we thought—and possibly for millions of years before that. "Quite honestly it just looks very Earth-like," the Curiosity's lead scientist said, according to The lake, located in the Gale Crater, would have been about 30 miles long and 3 miles wide.

The lake's mudstones—which form in calm, still water—contain traces of sulfur, nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and carbon, meaning it could have supported chemolithoautotrophs, a kind of microbial that obtains energy by breaking down rock minerals. The lake was revealed today amidst a barrage of papers on the Rover's progress. National Geographic breaks down some of the other key take-aways, including one that's less promising for Martian life hunters: Curiosity's first radiation measurements indicate levels that would be fatal, within a few million years, to anything within several meters of the surface. Though the researchers did note that some classes of bacteria might have been able to survive through long periods of hibernation.

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Ezekiel 25:17
Dec 11, 2013 1:19 AM CST
The photo of the rover looks suspiciously like a Photosynth product. Imagine that, a smartphone on Mars.
Dec 10, 2013 10:24 AM CST
Isn't microbial an adjective?
Dec 10, 2013 2:40 AM CST
Water could shield from radiation, and seismic activity could provide the heat energy to keep archaebacteria going