A trio of scientists says they’ve identified the best place to look for evidence of ancient life on Mars — one of the youngest lake-bearing basins ever discovered.
Though Mars has no liquid water today, the Red Planet was submerged under vast oceans billions of years ago. And where there’s water, there’s the potential for life.
Scientists suspected that after the oceans evaporated, that was it for water — and life — on Mars. But a recent paper published in the journal Geology says that’s not the case.
Mars had a second wave of surface water about 3.6 billion years ago — 200 million years after scientists thought Mars had seen the last of its liquid water. This water, the researchers report, was located in a lake inside a basin near the Martian equator, about 100 miles from where NASA’s Opportunity rover rests today.
It is one of the youngest lakes and therefore possibly one of the last liquid water sources to ever exist on Mars, the researchers report.
The discovery is exciting for the prospect of ancient Martian life, explains lead author Brian Hynek who is a research associate at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at Colorado University-Boulder:
“Having a later stage of water on Mars is probably a good thing for the potential for life on that planet because it gave life more time to be conceived,” Hynek told Business Insider. “There was life on Earth when this lake was active so by that analogy, we can say there’s potential that Mars had microbial life and this was a great place where it could have resided.”
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