NASA Curiosity Rover mission: Ancient lake on Mars may have offered suitable environment to microbial life

02 June 2017, 05:34 PM
NASA Curiosity Rover mission: Ancient lake on Mars may have offered suitable environment to microbial life
NASA Curiosity Rover mission: Ancient lake on Mars may have offered suitable environment to microbial life

With the help of NASA’s Curiosity rover mission, scientists have found that more than three billion years ago, a long-lasting lake on ancient Mars may have provided suitable environment conditions of different types of microbes to exist simultaneously.

According to the researchers, the lake in Mars’ Gale was stratified.

So this implies that sharp chemical or physical differences were exhibited by the water in different parts of lake. And according to researchers, shallow water had more oxidants than the deeper water.

“These were very different, co-existing environments in the same lake,” said Joel Hurowitz of Stony Brook University in the US.

“This type of oxidant stratification is a common feature of lakes on Earth, and now we’ve found it on Mars,” said Hurowitz.

“The diversity of environments in this Martian lake would have provided multiple opportunities for different types of microbes to survive, including those that thrive in oxidant-rich conditions, those that thrive in oxidant-poor conditions, and those that inhabit the interface between those settings,” he said.

Well the fact that Mars had life on it or not is still unknown but finding signs of life on any planet -whether it is Mars or more distant icy world- starts with the reconstruction of the environment to determine if it was able to support life.

The primary goal of Curiosity when it landed inside Gale Crater in 2012 was to find out whether Mars ever had suitable environmental conditions for microbial life.

Evidence of ancient freshwater river and lake environments with the chemical ingredients for life and also a possible energy for life were found by the rover in its first year on the crater floor at ‘Yellowknife Bay’.

Curiosity has since driven to the base of Mount Sharp, a layered mountain inside the crater, and inspected rock layers that grow progressively younger as the rover gains elevation on lower Mount Sharp.

“These results give us unprecedented detail in answering questions about ancient environmental conditions on Mars,” said Curiosity Project Scientist Ashwin Vasavada of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the US. 

First Published: Friday, June 02, 2017 05:19 PM

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