New Research Says Aliens Could Have Lived on Ancient Mars
New research into Mars' history may revolutionize our image of the Red Planet, including the ongoing investigation into whether it ever supported life.
It seems that not so long ago, Mars was covered in thick sheets of water ice that periodically melted due to volcanic eruptions, creating conditions that would allow microbes to flourish.
The new research comes from Purdue University and focuses on the mineralogy and topography of the planet, especially volcanoes.
According to professor Briony Horgan:
"There are people trying to model Mars' ancient climate using the same kind of models we use here on Earth, and they're having a really hard time doing it...While a lot of people are using climate models, we're coming at this from a unique perspective—what does the volcanic record of Mars tell us?"
The study notes that there are over a hundred "flat-topped mounds" in the Sisyphi Planum, an area in the southern highlands of Mars and proposes that they are actually ancient volcanoes that formed beneath glaciers, which prevented them from become cone-shaped.
In addition, the team used spectrometers to observe the minerals in the area and found that they matched up with a subglacial volcanic environment.
So what does all this mean?
Well, according to Horgan, this combination of fire and ice would have made Mars an excellent place for life to develop:
"Even if Mars was a cold and icy wasteland, these volcanic eruptions interacting with ice sheets could have created a little happy place for microbes to exist. This is the kind of place you'd want to go to understand how life would've survived on Mars during that time."
Luckily for us, NASA's already got a new rover in the works to survey the Red Planet for traces of life—the Mars 2020 rover, which will launch in two years.