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NASA Curiosity rover discovers evidence of fresh-water Mars lake

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NASA’s steady reconnaissance of Mars with the Curiosity rover has produced another major discovery: evidence of an ancient lake with water so low in salinity and so neutral in acidity that it could plausibly be described as drinkable.

Scientists have known that the young Mars was warmer and wetter, but this is the best evidence yet that the planet had what people would call swimming holes (though scientists say it would have been chilly — you’d have wanted to wear a wetsuit).

An animated video from NASA shows the area on Mars where the Curiosity rover recently discovered evidence of an ancient lake. Narration by John Grotzinger, a Caltech planetary geologist who is the chief scientist of the Curiosity rover mission.

The “fresh water” lake could have harbored life, in theory. The chemistry of the lake would have been congenial to organisms known as chemolithoautotrophs — mineral-eaters. Whether such organisms, which thrive on Earth in exotic environments such as caves and deep-sea hydrothermal vents, actually existed on the young Mars is a question Curiosity lacks the tools to answer.

The findings are being published Monday online by the journal Science and will be discussed Monday in San Francisco at the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union.

Full Story at http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nasa-curiosity-rover-discovers-evidence-of-fresh-water-mars-lake/2013/12/09/a1658518-60d9-11e3-bf45-61f69f54fc5f_story.html



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