Researchers at Brown University have discovered a previously unknown type of ancient crater lake on Mars. This could provide a clue to the planet’s early climate.
A research team led by Brown Ben Boatwright, Ph.D., has described the new crater. It can be understood from its bottom that streams previously flowed there, but there is no evidence of inlet channels through which water could enter the crater from the outside, and no evidence of groundwater activity.
The researchers concluded that the system was likely powered by runoff from a long-extinct Martian glacier. Water flowed into the crater from the top of the glacier, so it did not leave behind a valley. Eventually, the water sank to the bottom of the crater, where it left its geological trail on the bare Martian soil.
The lake type described in this study is in stark contrast to other Martian crater lakes, such as the Gale and Jezero craters, which NASA’s rovers are currently exploring.
According to the authors of the work, from the crater one can understand what the early climate of Mars was. There is no doubt that the Martian climate was once warmer and more humid. However, it is not clear if Mars was similar to Earth.