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Published January 24, 2014 | Accepted Version
Journal Article Open

A Habitable Fluvio-Lacustrine Environment at Yellowknife Bay, Gale Crater, Mars


The Curiosity rover discovered fine-grained sedimentary rocks, inferred to represent an ancient lake, preserve evidence of an environment that would have been suited to support a Martian biosphere founded on chemolithoautotrophy. This aqueous environment was characterized by neutral pH, low salinity, and variable redox states of both iron and sulfur species. C, H, O, S, N, and P were measured directly as key biogenic elements, and by inference N and P are assumed to have been available. The environment likely had a minimum duration of hundreds to tens of thousands of years. These results highlight the biological viability of fluvial-lacustrine environments in the post-Noachian history of Mars.

Additional Information

Copyright 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science. Submitted Manuscript: 29 October 2013. Received for publication 4 July 2013. Accepted for publication 6 November 2013. Published Online December 9 2013. The authors are indebted to the Mars Science Laboratory Project engineering and management teams, for their exceptionally skilled and diligent efforts in making the mission as effective as possible and enhancing science operations. We are also grateful to all those MSL team members who participated in tactical and strategic operations. Without the support of both the engineering and science teams, the data presented here could not have been collected. Some of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Data presented in this paper are archived in the Planetary Data System (pds.nasa.gov)

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Accepted Version - Grotzinger-1242777-Nov_05_Final.pdf


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