Curiosity, truly living up to its name, has been crawling all over the red planet, trying to sniff out the faintest signs of life that Mars may have. The rover has been at Mars for a while and is already working its way around the planet, analysing rocks and capturing photos so as to improve our understanding and knowledge of the planet.
Now, much to the utter delight of scientists, Curiosity has been able to spot some traces of an ancient riverbed on Mars. The traces are manifest in the photos that the rover has sent back home. From the photos, it is quite clear that once water actually flowed on the planet.
According to Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich, “From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep. Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them. This is the first time we’re actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it.”
The proof of water having existed on Mars is a major break-through in the study of the planet. Water, scientists hold, is absolutely essential for life. And now that Mars has finally betrayed hints of having once contained flowing water, we can perhaps consider the possibility of life on the planet.