Scientists have long been searching for a possibility of life on Mars, and a recent finding by researchers from Georgia Institute of Technology and The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life Institute (SETI) has discovered its evidence. The discovery proves that water used to flow on the surface of the red planet once, making it an inhabitable planet.
The finding that proves the signs of life on the red planet is the ancient clay and carbonate-bearing rock that was exposed in a crater in Hesperia Planum, Mars. The rock is estimated to be 3.8 billion years old and was buried by as much as 5km of lava and caprock.
Though the Red planet is cold and dry today, estimates that the environment on Mars might have been warmer and wetter once. Whereas the possibility of life on Mars could have been fostered by the presence of liquid water on the surface. Researchers have argued that the presence of carbonates and clays clearly indicates the existence of water on its surface. Other than this, scientists have also found watermarks and pebbles on the Mars suggesting that there were possibilities of life several million years ago on the planet.
Through the years, researchers have collected evidence of the presence of carbonate minerals on Mars. So to have the best outcome, the researchers observed Huygens basins on the Mars. The 450km long basin contains carbonate and clay that are 3.8 billion years old.
Commenting on the reason behind selecting this particular location, James Wray from the Georgia Institute of Technology says, “Outcrops in the 450km wide Huygens basin contain both clay minerals and iron or calcium-rich carbonate-bearing rocks.”
To get a clear picture of whether human did inhabit Mars billion years ago, researchers used data from Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM), which is on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to identify carbonates on the Planet. The team then combined the CRISM data with images from the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and Context Camera (CTX) on the orbiter. Researchers also took data from Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on the Mars Global Surveyor.
Even though evidence points towards the existence on Mars billion years ago, the study is still at its preliminary stage.