According to a new study, Mars’ shallow lakes may have once sustained life. Basins covered in lava and water could have sustained the necessary conditions for microbes to survive
According to scientists, the basins could have been alternatively covered with lava and water, creating ideal temperatures, water pressure and the necessary nutrients for life as we know it to thrive.
This discovery will surely help scientists plan future Mars mission and where to look for traces of life on the red planet.
According to a new study, the groundwater moving beneath huge tectonic rift zones could have helped carve some of the deepest basins on mars, which, according to scientists, may have been habitable, a strong suggestion proposing that life may have thrived on the red planet in the distant past.
Scientists from the Planetary Science Institute in Tuscon, Arizona suggest that basins on Mars could have been covered with lava and water over the course of hundreds of millions of years. This ideal mixture, created ideal temperature ranges, water pressure and nutrients, and life as we know it could have made it on Mars. The new study claims that gigantic lakes could have formed within these lava-filled basins.
‘The temperature ranges, presence of liquid water, and nutrient availability, which characterize known habitable environments on Earth, have higher chances of forming on Mars in areas of long-lived water and volcanic processes,’ said lead author Alexis Palmero Rodriguez.
Rodriguez added that: Salt deposits and features of the ancient lakes are important ‘when looking for past habitable areas on Mars. The detection of paleo-lake sites on Mars is particular challenging because under the planet’s frigidly cold and thin atmosphere, their ponded water would have behaved differently than on Earth.
‘In this research we propose a Tibetan region where high mountain lakes show unique sets of landforms that might explain some basin interior features in the studied region of Mars.’
This new study comes after other interesting theories suggested fossilized life could be found in gemstones mined deep inside Martian Craters. The discovery was made thanks to traces of Opal which scientists discovered in a Martian meteorite that struck Earth over 100 years ago.
Opal: An intriguing discovery
According to studies, Opal is an extremely important finding. Not only can Opal preserve fossils, it can also form around hot springs where microbial life might have prospered once.
The discovery of Opal was made in a small fraction of a Martian Meteorite called Nakhla, named after the town in Egypt where the meteorite impacted Earth in 1911, millions of years after being blasted from Mars, by a massive impact of unknown origin.
With the aid of powerfully microscopes, the group of researchers discovered small traces of the gem in the rock created by the interaction of Martian water with silica within the meteorite.
‘The slice of Nakhla that we have is small, and the amount of fire opal we’ve found in it is even smaller, but our discovery of opal is significant for a couple of reasons,’ said lead author Professor Martin Lee.
‘Firstly, it definitively confirms findings from Nasa’s imaging and exploration of the Martian surface which appeared to show deposits of opal.
‘This is the first time that a piece of Mars here on Earth has been shown to contain opal.
‘Secondly, we know that on Earth opals like these are often formed in and around hot springs.
‘Microbial life thrives in these conditions, and opal can trap and preserve these microbes for millions of years.
‘If Martian microbes existed, it’s possible they too may be preserved in opal deposits on the surface of Mars.’
Interestingly, previous studies have found that Mars once had giant oceans covering its surface.
According to scientists, a huge primitive ocean covered one-fifth of the red planet’s surface. Mars was warm, wet and ideal for Alien life to develop. This ancient ocean on Mars was a mile deep I certain points of the planet holding over 2p million kilometers of water, more than is found the Arctic Ocean. “Ultimately we can conclude this idea of an ocean covering 20% of the planet which opens the idea of habitability and the evolution of life on the planet,” said Geronimo Villanueva, the first author of the study.
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.