The creation of sedimentary rocks from the presence of water is evidence which suggests that once the emergence of microbial life was possible on Mars, as NASA’s Curiosity rover, which conducts research on the Red Planet, shows.
In February, Curiosity first used its drill to collect samples from a rock in the crater Gale. The chemical analysis at the Mars Science laboratory showed that the samples consisted of 20% clay, probably formed by reaction of running water with igneous rocks.
As announced by the NASA, the data indicate that the rover is located at the mouth of an ancient river system or shallow lakes.
Similar traces have been found in other areas of Mars. However, at this point, Curiosity found that the water was not acidic or oxidant to a degree sufficient to prevent the development of life.
At the same time, the levels of salts were not at prohibitive levels in the presence of calcium sulphate, which indicates that the water was neutral or mildly alkaline.
Finally, the samples detected by the Curiosity could have given to extraterrestrial microbes a source of chemical energy for their growth, as the researchers at California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which manages the mission, noted.
“A fundamental question to respond is whether Mars could have had an environment suitable for life,” said Michael Meyer, a research manager of the mission at the NASA headquarters in Washington. “Based on what we know so far, the answer is yes,” he said.