Believe it or not, but a latest study suggests that planet Mars once had salt lakes similar to those present on the Earth. The researchers from Texas A&M University in the United States said that these lakes went through wet and dry phases and dried out over a long time due to the red planet’s changing climate. The study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, noted that water on Mars may have become unsustainable and evaporated as atmosphere became very thin and the pressure at the surface became lesser.
It said that over 3 billion years ago a lake was present in Gale Crater, a gigantic 95-mile-wide rocky basin present on Mars. It is located near the northwestern part of the Aeolis quadrangle on the red planet. Earlier studies have also said that it is 154 km in diameter and estimated to be about 3.5 billion years old. NASA Curiosity rover is exploring it since 2012. The latest study said that the lake underwent a drying episode due to climate change on the planet.
Co-author of the study Marion Nachon from Texas A&M University said that studies have shown Gale Crater has signs which reveals that liquid was present on the red planet. Nachon said that it is quite difficult to say exactly how large these ponds were. He, however, added that the lake in Gale Crater was present for long periods of time. The researchers also observed that salt lakes on Mars are similar to some on the Earth. The characteristics of these ponds are similar to those present in Altiplano near the Bolivia-Peru border. The Altiplano is the area where the Andes are the widest. It is also the most extensive area of high plateau outside Tibet in Asia on Earth. According to Nachon, Altiplano is too dry and too unfavorable to produce any vegetation. They are generally high-altitude plateau where rivers and streams from mountain ranges do not flow to the sea but lead to closed basins. This is similar to what used to happen at Gale Crater on the red planet. She explained that this hydrology creates lakes with water levels heavily influenced by atmosphere. The Altiplano lakes become shallow due to evaporation during the arid periods. A few even dry up entirely. Researchers said that the climate on Mars may have fluctuated and these lakes may have disappeared.