An ancient stream on Mars that once channeled water? Yes indeed, says the NASA Curiosity rover. When Curiosity made its legendary landing on August 6th, 2012, the rover’s Mars Science Laboratory Project team they didn’t immediately expect this discovery: “This is the first time we’re actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars,” says William Dietrich, from the University of California, Berkeley. “This is a transition from speculation about the size of stream bed material to direct observation of it.”
It goes as far as a habitable area: “A long-flowing stream can be a habitable environment,” states Mars Science Laboratory Project Scientist John Grotzinger. Next stop? Mount Sharp, where the researchers hope Curiosity will find preserved carbon-based organic materials due to the clay and sulfate materials in the area.