Mars crater life? The scientific community is buzzing after NASA's Mars rover made a discovery that could possibly point to previous Mars crater life on the Red Planet. According to a Dec. 9 USA Today report, the analysis of rock samples taken from the NASA rovers in Yellowknife Bay, near the Martian equator, shows that about 3.6 billion years ago, the area was home to a basin of water rich in all the elements necessary for the growth of microorganisms similar to those on Earth who live in hydrothermal vents, taking the energy from inorganic compounds they need.
Traces of an ancient freshwater lake, which contained the essential elements for the development of life have been detected in a depression of Mars known as Yellowknife Bay due to sampling and the images collected by Curiosity, the rover NASA dispatched to the Red Planet in August 2012.
The studies involve a series of outcrops of sedimentary rock in the Yellowknife Bay in Gale Crater, the impact basin 150 miles in diameter dating back to 4.1 billion years ago, located near the Martian equator. Here Curiosity has taken a series of rock samples, which are mudstones or fine-grained sedimentary rocks.
Analyses have shown that the waters of the ancient lake had low salinity, with a relatively neutral pH, and contained elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulfur, to an extent sufficient to support simple life like that of microorganisms.
Regarding the possible Mars crater life discovery, Douglas Ming, who took part in the research, said:
"Is this the smoking gun that says there was life on Mars? No," He continued....Is this a smoking gun that this was a habitable environment? There's pretty good evidence for that. We have an environment that is very much … like on Earth."
The data collected indicates that the most favorable conditions for evidence of organic substances on Mars are those found in rocks or soils that were exposed in more recent times, such as walls or canyons.
It's important to note that the rover did detect hydrocarbons, which serve as an energy source for life and a potential signature of life, during the Mars crater life mission. However, at least some of them came from solvents that leaked out of a storage container on the rover itself.
"Most of us feel there is a good chance that there's something there," Caltech's John Grotzinger, project scientist for Curiosity explained. "It's just that we haven't been able to tease it out at the level of confidence we'd like."
What do you think of the possibility of Mars crater life? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.