Area on Mars That Was Likely 'Favorable to Life' Millions of Years Ago Discovered by Scientists
19:01 GMT 29.06.2022 (Updated: 19:11 GMT 29.06.2022)
The researchers suggest that the area they identified “records a long history of flowing water” starting about 3.8 billion years ago and ending around 2.5 billion years ago.
While scientists have yet to determine whether life could exist somewhere on Mars, a new study has identified an area on the Red Planet that may have been “repeatedly habitable” in the past, according to a news release by the Planetary Science Institute (PSI) in Arizona.
Using the data obtained via the equipment on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the researchers managed to identify deposits of clay-bearing sediment in the Margaritifer Terra region.
As Catherine Weitz, senior scientist at PSI and lead author of the study, explains, the presence of clays “indicates an environment favorable for life,” since they “form and remain stable under neutral pH conditions where water persists long-term that minimizes evaporation to form other minerals like sulfates.”
“We found that the Ladon basin region within Margaritifer Terra records a long history of flowing water beginning relatively early in Mars history around 3.8 billion years ago that continued until up to 2.5 billion years ago, which is considered relatively recent,” she said.
The team’s findings also suggest that “a lake was most likely present within Ladon basin and northern Ladon Valles,” Weitz noted, adding that “the low-energy lake setting and presence of clays support an environment that would have been favorable to life at that time.”