Mars rocks found near ancient lakes could be evidence that microbes once existed on Mars. Researchers have developed a field guide for future Mars missions that shows where to look for the fossils.
( Aynur Zakirov | Pixabay )
Mars rocks found near the sites of ancient lakes on the Red Planet could provide evidence that life once existed there, the researchers say.
The rocks, however, will not show the world of bug-eyed aliens. Instead, they are expected to prove microbial life that once teemed on Mars.
The Quest for Life on Mars
According to the researchers, the best evidence is that microbes once existed on Mars, rich in iron and silica formed on the planet's prehistoric lake beds ,
The study, published in the Journal of Geophysical Research claimed that the sediments most likely consist of compacted mud or clay are those that contain microbial fossils on Mars.
The rocks are said to have formed between 3 billion years and 4 billion years ago, during the so-called Noah's epoch. It was named after Noachis Terra, the oldest region on Mars, and during this time it is believed that Mars had abundant water and warmer temperatures on the surface. These conditions could have supported life on Mars.
The study included a field guide to future Mars missions, showing exactly where to look for fossils of microbes on Mars. NASA 's next Mars mission will specifically seek evidence that life once existed on Mars, and the European Space Agency is currently planning a similar mission.
The researchers found that the rocks on Mars are better preserved than the rocks of the same age found on Earth. The reason for this is that there is no plate tectonics on Mars, a natural phenomenon that moves rocks on the earth's crust that can destroy fossils.
"There are many interesting rock and mineral outcrops on Mars where we search for fossils. Because we can not send rovers to all, we have tried to prioritize the most promising deposits for the best available information," Dr. Sean McMahon, Principal Author of the Study and a Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellow of the School (1
A recent study estimates that there are about 12,000 Olympic pelvis of organic matter that prove life on Mars. NASA has recently been able to repair the drilling capabilities of its Curiosity Rover and allow it to further study the Red Planet.
The next big frontier on Mars exploration, however, are missions that send people to Mars. However, there are many challenges, including protection against the effects of cosmic rays.
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