The Curiosity probe has discovered a remarkable rock formation that cuts through the strange landscapes of Mars. Among the sand and shallow boulders of Gale Crater, several twisting towers of rock rise – sediment spikes look like frozen streams of water flowing from an invisible jug in the sky.
In fact, experts Say The columns may have consisted of cement-like materials that filled cracks in ancient rocks. As the softer rocks gradually eroded, streams of cohesive material remained.
The rock formations were I cut by a camera aboard the Curiosity rover on May 17, but the image was only shared last week by NASA and experts at the SETI Institute (which stands for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), as part of the SETI Planetary Image Initiative for Today.
#PPODHere’s another amazing rock in Gale Crater on Mars! The outcrops are most likely the cement fillings of ancient fractures in sedimentary rocks. The rest of the rocks were made of a softer material and eroded away. 📷: Tweet embed Tweet embed Tweet embed # mss fredk, acquired on May 17. pic.twitter.com/RGfjmRBfI7
SETIInstitute 26 May 2022
Although the structures may seem strange, they are not without precedent.
in geology,head capIt is a tall and thin rocky tower formed by erosion. It can also be called tent rock, fairy chimney or earth pyramid.
Hoods are usually found in dry environments, such as canyons of Utah or southern Serbia, and columns can sometimes rise to buildings ten stories tall.
Natural structures consist of hard rock layers that accumulate within softer sedimentary rocks. As the rest of the rock erodes away from rain, wind, or sleet, you’re left with a wonderful mold of an old fracture in the bedrock.
The two rocky towers on Mars look like they’re about to fall compared to those we see on Earth, but they’re clearly solid enough to withstand the lighter surface gravity the Red Planet has experienced.
Another strange rock formation discovered by Curiosity earlier this year may have been created in a similar way, albeit with very different results.
This other, slightly smaller rock looks like a piece of coral or a flower with many small petals stretching toward the sun.
“One theory that has emerged is that the rocks are a type of concrete created by minerals deposited by water in cracks or splits in existing rocks,” a NASA press release explained in time.
“This concrete material can stick together, it can be more solid and denser than the surrounding rock, and it can remain even after the surrounding rock has eroded.”
Gale crater isn’t exactly flat, but the strange constellations that Curiosity has discovered do stand out from the rest of its environment, although no height measurements accompany the image.
Tombstones towering in the rocks may seem lifeless now, but their formation speaks volumes about ancient conditions on Mars and whether life could have thrived there billions of years ago.
Gale Crater itself is thought to be a dry lake bed, although it may be shallower and more transitional than previously thought.
The rock formations in and around the ancient lake help reveal the true history of the area.