The crater on Mars is “brimming” with gems – and may be hiding a world-changing secret

A crater on the surface of Mars gives scientists new hope that there may be water on the red planet.

The crater of Mars may be full of opal gemstones, which are often found in jewelry and museums here on Earth.

This crater could actually be an ancient dry lake bed


This crater could actually be an ancient dry lake bedCredit: Malin Space Science Systems/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Opal crystals are essentially formed from two main components: silica from sandstone and water.

That means the crater could actually be an ancient dried-up lake bed, new data from NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover suggests.

The data improves the chances of finding evidence of microbial life that may have previously inhabited Mars, according to a separate study in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

Researchers examining the Curiosity rover’s image archive now believe there are other areas of Mars rich in water-based opal gemstones.

These areas have light colored rock “halos” which scientists believe are opal rich areas.

And they’re popping up all over the 96-mile-wide (154 km-wide) Gale Crater, which Curiosity has been exploring since its mission began in 2021.

“To see that these fracture networks were so widespread and likely brimming with opal was incredible,” said the study’s lead author Travis Gabriel, a research physicist at the US Geological Survey.

“Given the widespread fracture networks discovered in Gale Crater, it is reasonable to expect that these potentially habitable subsurface conditions would extend to many other regions of Gale Crater and perhaps other regions of Mars.

“These environments would have formed long after the ancient lakes in Gale Crater dried up.”

The finding raises the possibility that life may have been on Mars longer than previously thought.

Researchers say it’s possible Mars showed signs of life as far back as 2.9 billion years ago – with the Red Planet estimated to be around 4.6 billion years old.

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