A satellite orbiting Mars has found evidence that a huge crater on the Red Planet was once a water-filled lake and striking new images of the surface have been released.
The new images were captured by the European Space Agency's Mars Express satellite, which has been orbiting Mars since 2003.
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 say 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 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 rover mission.
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.
He also noted that the Eberswalde crater was recently rejected by the Mars Science Laboratory as the landing site for the next Mars rover.
Golombek told The Times that he insisted that the new rover landing site will yield a better scientific experience, and perhaps even more gorgeous photos. That 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.