Panoramic image from NASA’s Mars Rover transforms our understanding of the Red Planet

This could potentially change everything.
  • A new image shared by NASA’s Curiosity rover challenges a long-held belief regarding water on Mars
  • The image was taken in a valley that – according to scientists – could be a dry river bed
  • This new image is fueling a different theory

Published on Apr 3, 2024 at 5:13PM (UTC+4)

Last updated on Apr 4, 2024 at 11:51AM (UTC+4)

Edited by Tom Wood

We’ve known for some time that water may have been present on Mars in the past, but now there’s a new image that can tell us even more.

Taken by Curiosity, a Mars rover, the new image is further fueling scientists’ belief that Mars hasn’t always been totally dry.

However, at the same time, it also challenges a long-held belief and stimulates a new theory.

READ MORE: NASA’s car-sized rover makes startling discovery on Mars

Roughly the size of a kei car, the aptly named Curiosity rover has been exploring Mars for about 12 years.

It left Earth in late 2011 and landed at Gale Crater on Mars a few months later.

NASA scientists chose Gale Crater because they believe the crater may have been a lake, billions of years ago.

While exploring the area, Curiosity reached Gediz Vallis, a channel-shaped rocky valley that scientists believe may have been carved by an ancient river.

The picture is unfortunately only available in black and white but, according to NASA, it reveals something that looks like the remains of a river.

“[The panorama shows] dark sand that fills one side of the channel and a debris pile rising just behind the sand,” NASA wrote in a statement.

“In the opposite direction is the steep slope that Curiosity climbed to reach this area.”

The Gediz Vallis channel is carved into the underlying bedrock, and is filled with boulders and debris.

More importantly, based on what they’ve seen so far in Gediz Vallis, NASA scientists are beginning to suspect that perhaps water on Mars may have come and gone, in different phases.

This would challenge the popular theory that Mars once had rivers, lakes and seas, until the water began disappearing gradually and the planet became dry.

We can expect to find out more about Mars in the coming years as NASA is already working on a replacement for the now-defunct Ingenuity helicopter.

Some of the images used for this article were generated using AI

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