An international group of scientists led by astrobiologist Sean McMahon of the University of Edinburgh suggested that iron-rich rocks on Mars near the ancient dried-up lakes are the most suitable place to look for traces of microorganisms that lived billions of years ago.
An international group of scientists led by astrobiologist Sean McMahon of the University of Edinburgh suggested that iron-rich rocks on Mars near the ancient dried-up lakes are the most suitable place to look for traces of microorganisms that lived billions of years ago. The article is published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets. This is reported by the publication Science Alert.
At the moment, there is no evidence that Mars was inhabited, but there were once life-friendly conditions on the planet. Observations from the orbit showed that on the surface there are dried river valleys, winding and branched channels, lakes typical for lakes in depressions of the relief, as well as cones of eruption formed by deposits in the mouths of water streams.
Liquid water existed there 4,100-3500 million years ago, when Mars possessed a dense atmosphere, preventing the penetration of harmful solar radiation.
The experts analyzed the available scientific literature and identified the places that are best suited to search for traces of microbial life on Mars, if it ever existed. They are rich in iron and silica lacustrine deposits, which correspond to an oxidation-reduction medium, suitable for bacteria with anaerobic metabolism. They are also suitable for fossilization – the process of transformation of dead organisms into fossils. Another suitable place may be former hot springs, but their existence on Mars must be confirmed.
In 2020, NASA will launch the Mars 2020 mission as part of the long-term Mars Exploration Program. A rover will be sent to the Red Planet, similar in design to the rover Curiosity. The new planet-boat is designed for astrobiological studies of ancient rocks and the search for traces of life. It will be equipped with a drone for reconnaissance and have greater mobility than its predecessor, but scientists believe that the success of the mission depends on the successful choice of the landing site.