As long as life took root on Earth, Mars not only had all the ingredients for life, but also long-lived lakes that could support it, recent research from the NASA Curiosity rover team shows.
Analysis of precipitation and geological rocks found in the Gale crater, which is the landing site of the rover, shows that the basin has been periodically filled with water for the last hundreds or even thousands of years. Prior to this, the rover discovered evidence of an ancient shallow lake and streams.
“You have a hole filled with stable water,” which shows that Mars should have a thick atmosphere at this point in history, and through modern computer modeling, this fact can be confirmed, according to geologist John Grotzinger of the California Institute of Technology for Discovery News.
“It also means that other areas were wet enough,” he adds.
New research “Strongly increases the chance when life on Mars even evolved and could have many habitable environments,” according to Grotzinger. "This is the final proof that you need to recognize that stable lakes were on Mars." A study published in the journal Science this week not only proves that craters can, and indeed do, fill with water, but also sow discussions about Mount Sharpe, which is three miles high from geological sediments, rising above the crater Gale.
Analysis of the data collected by the rover, showed that water is collected in the low of the crater, which gradually increases all the time until the crater basin is full.
“The only way to get it is still water that captures rainfall and fills the lake. Then the water rises and it creates more space for precipitation again and again. In this direction, like raising the probe, you see that the crater progressively fills up layer by layer, layer by layer, layer by layer, and reaches a height of 1000 meters, maybe 2000 meters, then stops, ”says Grotzinger.
Then a new cycle begins, at this time the wind enters. The layers of sediment are spread and nullified, and all that remains is a mountain in the middle of the crater. Scientists estimate that the crater was filled and emptied within a time span of about 500 million years, from about 3.2 billion to 3.7 billion years ago, a period of time that corresponds to the oldest sedimentary rocks on Earth.
“I was surprised, pleasantly surprised, by the similarity between Earth and Mars,” reports University of Utah Marjorie Chan, a geologist for Discovery News.
Even if there was not enough conclusive evidence of extraterrestrial life, geological results show that there were key ingredients of water and places where water could be available for microbiological life, originate and develop on Mars.
The geology of Mars continues to hold the enticing possibility that extraterrestrial life can exist or be preserved, because there is plenty of evidence related to water.