NASA scientists have named the area “Hottah,” after the Canadian lake. While the pictures are, frankly, a bit dull this is a huge discovery which could lead to us understanding the red planet and the life that could potentially live on it.

The pictures released are of exposed bedrock – which is found at the bottom of a river. The site consists of gravel and is based at the north rim of Gale Crater and at the bottom of Mount Sharp.

Scientists have studied images of the rocks at the site and come to the conclusion that their shapes could have been caused by a fast-flowing stream. The rounded shapes lead to the fact they’ve travel significant distances due to fast-flowing water. A Berkeley earth and planetary science professor Bill Dietrich explains:

“From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about three feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep… This is the first time we’re actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it.”

Other scientists are also thrilled at the new findings. The question now is: could this new discovery lead to life on the red planet? Lab scientist John Grotzinger explains:

“A long-flowing stream can be a habitable environment. It is not our top choice as an environment for preservation of organics, though. We’re still going to Mount Sharp, but this is insurance that we have already found our first potentially habitable environment.”