Most Convincing Evidence Yet that Mars Supported Life
We recently reported on a finding showing that smooth surfaced pebbles found on Mars indicated that rivers of water once flowed on the surface of Mars. However, until now, it was believed that water would have been very acidic and would not necessarily have harboured life. But a new discovery by NASA’s Mars Rover has revealed that the water was in fact benign with a neutral pH and provides strong evidence that Mars once supported life. This is, to date, the biggest discovery of the decade made by the Mars Rover in its relentless search for life or the conditions that would have supported it.
The Mars Rover has been spending its time exploring and taking samples within a 14-mile-wide Crater called the Endeavour Crater. During this investigation, it uncovered samples of clay minerals in an ancient rock, called ‘Esperance’ on the rim of the Crater, which suggest that there was water so good “you could drink”, according to principal investigator Steve Squyres of Cornell University. It is thought that the neutral-pH water that generated the clays flowed on Mars during the first billion years of its history.
"This is water that was probably much more favorable in its chemistry, in its pH, in its level of acidity, for things like prebiotic chemistry — the kind of chemistry that could lead to the origin of life," Squyres added.
The latest findings is helping scientists to piece together the conditions that once existed on Mars and to understand the transition from a relatively warm and wet world to the cold and dry planet we know today. Furthermore, it is helping to unravel the secrets that the Red Planet holds regarding the existence of life.
"The fundamental conditions that we believe to be necessary for life were met here," Squyres said. Esperance provides strong evidence that ancient Mars was habitable.