NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover found evidence that a crater on The Red Planet rover mission had physical and chemical conditions well suited for life for roughly 700 million years.
The rover analyzed several mineral samples and found they likely formed in a liquid water environments in the distant past, according to a study published Wednesday, strongly suggesting water covered much of Mars while when life was just beginning on Earth.
“It helps to broaden our understanding of what it meant to be a habitable environment on Mars, three billion years ago,” Dr. Joel Hurowitz, a geochemist at Stony Brook University, told reporters.
Curiosity discovered evidence that Gale Crater on Mars has previously had both water and the right chemical ingredients for life. The rovers observations indicate that Gale Crater was once filled with a series of lakes that rose and fell over time.
“Our analysis of those rocks indicates that gradients in Lake water oxidation state were present in the primary lacustrine environment,”states the study’s abstract. “Taken together, these results provide compelling evidence that the physical, chemical and energetic conditions necessary to establish a habitable environment were present on Mars between 3.8 and 3.1 (billion years ago).”
Curiosity concluded in December that large parts of Mars were probably capable of supporting life for over 100 million years. The rover even found organic material “all over” the Red Planet.
Curiosity observed 650 feet of rocks laid down over hundreds of millions of years and found that Mars’ environment changed considerably over its geologic history, but it would have been possible for life to form or survive.
Scientists at the University of Texas published research in November that said some volcanic areas on Mars could be ideal chemical environment for life to develop and flourish even in the present day. Lava from volcanoes and ice from glaciers could combine to form a fairly warm environment that has access to a lot of water ice and potentially even liquid water.
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