Mars Bullseye Could Be Host to Ancient Life

Sunday, 20 November 2016 - 12:22PM
Space
Astrobiology
Mars
Sunday, 20 November 2016 - 12:22PM
Mars Bullseye Could Be Host to Ancient Life
Last week, a group of scientists from the University of Texas delved deep into the eyes of two famous Marian craters, the Hellas depression and the Galaxias Fossae. Other scientists had lightly explored them before, but none managed to find what Dr. Joseph Levy, a research associate of geophysics at UT, found in the "bullseye." 

Levy told news.com.au that his research indicates that either one of the craters could be "a good candidate site for evidence of past life... provided you could get a rover or astronaut down into [the craters] safely."

Levy began his search for ancient life in 2009, when he took a particular interest in what lay in the two bullseye shaped craters on the Red Planet. The depressions are both several kilometers across and several hundred meters deep. 

Opening quote
"This project got started when we noticed the first 'bullseye' depressions in the North Hellas site... The key finding is that both depressions appear to be places where large amounts of subsurface ice were removed. The potential combination of heat, meltwater, volcanic gasses, and geological weathering products makes these kinds of depressions potential habitable zones for past Martian life."
Closing quote


Though this is not the first time traces of water were found on Mars, this particular finding helps further the idea that the conditions needed to foster life do, in fact, exist on Mars. Dr. Levy explains, "Mars is a great candidate for that search [for life] because it has vast areas of ancient terrain that formed about the same time that life was beginning to leave evidence of its presence on Earth"

Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA, called the discovery "very important." 

Opening quote
"Our rover's finding a lot more humidity in the air than we ever imagined. As we inject the soils, they're moist, they're hydrated, full of water," he said. "What we are going to announce today is Mars is not the dry, arid planet that we thought of in the past. Today, we are going to announce that under certain circumstances, liquid water has been found on Mars."

"Finding evidence for past life preserved near the surface would raise the distinct possibility that some organisms could be present deep in the Martian subsurface, similar to the organisms that live deep within Earth's crust," said Dr. Levy, "As we find more and more habitable locations on Mars - presently habitable or showing signs of being capable of supporting life in the past - it starts to lead us to the conclusions that life must be lurking somewhere on the planet."
Closing quote


Now it's just up to us, and the future generations of scientists, to find it.
Science
NASA
Space
Astrobiology
Mars