In “Why do we think Curiosity found an old Mars riverbed?” (New Scientist, 28 September 2012 ), Lisa Grossman explains,
Let’s not be H2O-centric here. Could the liquid have been something other than water?
The chemical evidence for hydrated minerals at Gale Crater and elsewhere means water is definitely the top contender – although one team member likes to joke that, for all we know, the liquid could have been beer.
“But these fluvial environments aren’t the best habitable environments,” Gupta says. “They’re not the best at preserving evidence of life.” That’s part of why the rover has already left the outcrops behind and is now heading first toward a spot called Glenelg, where three different rock types come together, and then full speed towards the mountain in the middle of the crater, alternately called Aeolis Mons or Mount Sharp. Orbital images show tantalising evidence of clays in the mountain’s layers, and clays are known to better preserve organics.
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