Scientists announced on Friday that a satellite orbiting Mars has discovered that the huge crater on the red planet was once a water-filled lake.
The European Space Agency's (ESA) Mars Express satellite has been orbiting the red planet since around 2003.
The stunning images focus on the Eberswalde Crater which was formed more than 3.7 billion years ago by an asteroid that smashed into the planet.
The right side of the Crater is unharmed whereas the rest of the Crater has been covered by the larger Holden Crater. The Holden Crater was formed by a space
rock that impacted later, kicking up debris that buried parts of the Eberswalde Crater.
ESA said the rare find was revealed by the presence of a delta, which they described as an ancient fan-shaped deposit of dark sediments, laid down in water.
Scientists said that the delta is a reminder of Mars' past, wetter climate. It is about 40 miles wide (65 kilometers) and is bone-dry.
ESA said the rim of the Crater is intact only on its right-hand side while the rest of it seems only faintly visible, or isn't visible at all.
This rock doesn't look like anything else we've seen before on Mars, said Steven W. Squyres, a professor of astronomy at Cornell and principal investigator of the
But there may be more stunning photos to come.
Matt Golombek, a scientist with the Mars Exploration Program Landing Site program at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, told the Los Angeles
Times that he agreed that the new images are beautiful, but it was recently rejected by the Mars Science Laboratory as the landing site for the next Mars rover.
Golombek in a telephone interview told The Times that he insisted that the new rover landing site will yield a better scientific experience, and perhaps even more
gorgeous photos. The location, the Gale Crater, was selected by a group of about 100 scientists from around the world.
It's even more cool looking, because you are going to land inside this Crater and a 5-kilometer high mound is right next to you, Golombek said. It's like being at
the bottom of the Grand Canyon and looking up, except bigger. It is going to be visually quite stunning.