For years, scientists have speculated that Mars, Earth’s sister planet, may have supported life in the past and now they’ve discovered something that could potentially confirm that theory.
Along the red planet, a number of odd ‘vein-like’ ridges have been discovered which researchers believe most likely formed when the planet’s ancient lakes evaporated.
It’s possible that alien life could have existed in these primordial lakes, before the planet lost the majority of its water around about 3.7 billion years ago.
More excitingly though, when scientists from the Open University and University of Leicester used NASA’s Curiosity Rover to analyse these veins, they discovered high concentrations of sulphur.
While this may not sound particularly thrilling, it potentially means that the prehistoric groundwater on Mars could have supported life.
Professor John Bridges said:
The taste of this Martian groundwater would be rather unpleasant, with about 20 times the content of sulphate and sodium than bottled mineral water for instance.
However as Dr Schwenzer from The Open University concludes, some microbes on Earth do like sulphur and iron rich fluids, because they can use those two elements to gain energy.
Unfortunately, while there’s still ice on Mars, liquid water cannot exist on the planet’s surface (in most cases) because the temperatures are too low, and its lack of a strong magnetic field means that water is almost instantly stripped away.
That said, life can find a way, and there are theories that there may be more ice locked under the surface.
Did someone say Ice Warriors?