Previous images of large channels on Mars and giant wave-like features on its surface called “megaripples” indicate that the planet suffered from catastrophic floods in the past. Now, a team of scientists has used data gathered by the Curiosity rover to prove that megafloods swept across the Gale crater around 4 billion years ago. “We identified megafloods for the first time using detailed sedimentological data observed by the rover Curiosity,” said Alberto G. Fairén, co-author of the paper published by Nature. “Deposits left behind by megafloods had not been previously identified with orbiter data.”
The team comprised of scientists from Jackson State University, Cornell, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawaii used images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Image and Mastcam cameras on board the Curiosity rover to observe rocks and minerals in the Gale crater. What they found were sediments that they determined were deposited by gigantic flash floods that happened after Mt. Sharp and the Gale crater first formed.