Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Gale Crater Lake

This illustration depicts a lake of water partially filling Mars' Gale Crater, receiving runoff from snow melting on the crater's northern rim. Evidence of ancient streams, deltas and lakes that NASA's Curiosity Mars rover mission has found in the patterns of sedimentary deposits in Gale Crater suggests the crater held a lake such as this more than three billion years ago, filling and drying in multiple cycles over tens of millions of years.

Gale Crater is 96 miles (154 kilometers) in diameter. This view is looking toward the southeast. The land surface in this illustration is the area's modern shape. Three billion years ago, the rim would have been higher and less eroded. A large layered mountain, Mount Sharp, now stands in the middle of Gale Crater. Accumulation of sediments in lakes, deltas, streams and wind-blown deposits is proposed to have formed the layers making up the lower portion of the mountain. When the crater first held a lake, it might have had central peak, much smaller than Mount Sharp, formed as a rebound from the impact that excavated the crater. Such a peak might have appeared as an island in the lake.

Illustration credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Note: For more information, see:
* PIA19067: Curiosity Mars Rover's Route from Landing to Base of Mount Sharp
* PIA19068: Inclined Martian Sandstone Beds Near 'Kimberley'
* PIA19069: Bedding Pattern Interpreted as Martian Delta Deposition
* PIA19070: Sets of Beds Inclined Toward Mount Sharp
* PIA19071: How a Delta Forms Where River Meets Lake
* PIA19072: Sol 696 (July 22, 2014), Left
* PIA19073: Multiple Deltas Built Out Over Time
* PIA19074: Sedimentary Signs of a Martian Lakebed
* PIA19075: Thin-Laminated Rock in 'Pahrump Hills' Outcrop
* PIA19076: Cross-Bedding at 'Whale Rock'
* PIA19077: Crystals May Have Formed in Drying Martian Lake
* PIA19078: Sediment Accumulation in Dry and Wet Periods
* PIA19079: Sedimentation and Erosion in Gale Crater, Mars
* PIA19081: Martian Rock's Evidence of Lake Currents
* NASA's Curiosity Rover Finds Clues to How Water Helped Shape Martian Landscape
* Mars Mountain was All Wet

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