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In ancient times, Mars was like Iceland

Scientists around the world have been arguing for many years about what Mars was like millions of years ago, and now, probably, they have become close to a common consensus.

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A team of American scientists from Rice University is confident that the once Martian Gale Crater was similar to modern Iceland. Scientists came to such conclusions thanks to the latest data obtained by the Curiosity rover.

The data collected by the rover reveals in great detail the physical and chemical state of the Martian rock that formed in the ancient lake. Scientists believe that Gale Crater was previously filled with water.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall in Iceland

Unfortunately, the discovered chemical compounds do not give a complete picture of what the climate was like on the Red Planet millions of years ago. In this regard, scientists began to look for the answer on Earth, that is, they began to look for analogues of similar rocks on our planet.

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The researchers compared the crater data with several places on Earth that could be similar in geological formations and weathering processes. It turned out that the basalt content of Iceland and the moderate weather of this country are very close to the possible state of ancient Mars.

Previously, researchers had different versions regarding the climate of the Red Planet. Some believed it was warm and humid, while others believed it was cold and dry. The latest study of sedimentary rocks showed that the planet’s climate was average between these hypotheses.

In ancient times, the climate was cold, but liquid water was present in lakes for a long time, according to one of the authors of the study, Michael Thorpe.

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Scientists explain this by the fact that when water passes through rocks, it “flushes out” readily soluble chemical compounds of minerals. By now, on Mars, an insignificant part of such elements has been lost. If the water on the Red Planet was warmer, then much more elements would dissolve.

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Jake Carter

Jake Carter is a researcher and a prolific writer who has been fascinated by science and the unexplained since childhood. He is always eager to share his findings and insights with the readers of, a website he created in 2013.