Auburn postdoctoral fellow is part of team researching ancient lake on Mars

13 Mar

 

Shawn Wright, a researcher and postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Geology and Geography, is part of an international team of scientists that recently discovered evidence for an ancient lake in one of Mars’ deepest craters, leading scientists to conclude the location may have been habitable for micro-organisms living deep underground.

McLaughlin Crater is approximately 92 kilometers wide and 2 kilometers deep, and one of the first things scientists noticed about the crater is a pattern of channels on the interior walls on the eastern side. All of the channels suddenly stop at an elevation located approximately 500 meters above the crater floor.

Wright and the team of scientists believe this level was the surface of an ancient lake, and the channels were formed as groundwater seeped out the walls of the crater. The crater floor also points to evidence that water was once present as it contains clays and calcite.

“The presence of calcite is significant because calcite is a marine and/or aqueous deposit, which is rare to find on cold, dry Mars,” Wright said.

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