According to a recent study, it’s very likely that Mars is in fact inhabited. The strange formations which captured the interest of scientists on Earth are mysterious ‘Martian cauliflowers’ which could have been formed by living organisms on Mars. This finding goes against everything we have been taught about Mars in recent decades.
Thanks to the discovery of a mysterious Cauliflower on Mars, hopes of finding microbial life on Mars have never been so high.
Not long ago, in 2008, NASA’s Spirit rover stumbled on something strange at Mars Gusev Crater. The mysterious are believed to have housed hot springs and geysers in the past, was covered with mysterious small, cauliflower-shaped nodules of a mineral known as opaline silica.
While opaline silica is something extremely ‘ordinary’ and a common mineral on its own, on Earth it can become widely distributed via soil and water and some organisms, like diatoms, need it in order to survive.
Finding something like this on Mars has left researchers around the world scratching their heads, wondering how on ‘Mars’ this mineral deposit was found in such peculiar shape.
Well, according to a study by Steven Ruff and Jack Farmer of Arizona State University in Tempe, the mysterious ‘Martian cauliflowers’ could have been formed by living organisms on Mars.
According to reports at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in December, the ‘dynamic duo’ studied Chile’s Atacama Desert, where conditions could prove to be very similar as to those found on mars. According to Ruff and Farmer: “the soil is similar; the extreme desert climate (less than four inches of rain per year, plus temperatures that range from -13 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit) is similar; and the huge amount of ultraviolet radiation that penetrates to the ground (thanks to its elevation of 13,000 feet about sea level) all make it probably the closest thing we have to Mars on Earth.”
However, there is a big difference between the Atacama Desert in Chile and Mars: the Atacama Desert has OXYGEN. Because scientists cannot just go to Mars and gather all of the necessary samples they need to accurately study these mysterious protrusions, they have to work with what they have at their disposal here on Earth.
The bright side of the comparisons is that besides the similar environment between the Atacama Desert and Mars, Atacama is very similar to the Gusev crater on the red planet: It used to house geysers too, and has similar looking silica deposits which have led scientists to believe, those found on Mars could have been created by microorganisms. According to evidence, it is believed that these geysers (Atacama) were home to different sorts of microbes.
Scientists believe that these mysterious ‘microbes’ gave the peculiar shape to the “cauliflowers” in the Atacama Desert.
“Having worked on modern hot springs, I have seen all forms of structures that look biological but are not,” Kurt Konhauser of the University of Alberta, who is the editor-in-chief of the journal Geobiology, told Smithsonian Magazine. “Because it looks biological doesn’t mean it is.”
NASA’s next rover for Mars will launch sometime in 2020 ,but until it does, scientists on Earth will have to work with materials they have now, and as expected, will make use of NASA’s current rovers on Mars as best as possible.
It seems that soon, we will finally know whether Mars can support life as we know it.