New data collected with NASA’s NASA Curiosity rover indicates a possible existence on the Red Planet in the past of hydrothermal activity, which expands the variety of potentially inhabitable conditions that once existed on the planet, scientists say in a new study.
The researchers found that the concentrations of chemical elements of zinc and germanium in the composition of sedimentary matter filling the Gale crater exceed the concentrations of these elements typical for most Martian rocks by a factor of 10-100.
Zinc and germanium are observed together in elevated quantities in high-temperature liquids and are often found on the Earth in sediments of hydrothermal origin containing sulfur. Elevated concentrations of zinc and germanium in the Gale Crater can be explained by the hydrothermal activity occurring earlier in this area, according to Jeff Berger, a geologist at the University of Guelph, Canada, and the main author of the new study.
In extreme temperature conditions on Earth, a large species diversity of microorganisms adapted to these conditions is often observed, and these organisms could be one of the first living creatures to appear on Earth.
These new measurements of the chemical composition of the substance of the Gale crater were made using the Alpha Particle X-Ray Spectrometer (APXS) of the Curiosity rover, currently exploring Mount Sharp, located inside the Gale crater, which also contains the landing zone of the rover.