A new study has suggested that NASA scientists may have discovered alien life on Mars years ago, they just didn’t notice it.
Back in 2007, NASA’s Spirit rover spotted a rather odd-looking rock formation on Mars’ Home Plate plateau, a site close to the Martian equator, The Telegraph reports.
However, when scientists from the University of Arizona were reviewing the photos to see how the outcrop of rock was formed, they discovered they were identical to structures at El Tatio, Chile.
These fingers, known as stomatolites were formed by microbial colonies in wet environments which traps sediment and eventually react with calcium carbonate in the water to build up a layer of limestone.
El Tatio has conditions very similar to Mars as it’s 14,000 feet above sea level, temperatures drop below freezing most nights and it’s also blasted by the Sun’s ultraviolet light thanks to the thin, dry air.
Dr Steve Ruff, from the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona explained:
We went to El Tatio looking for comparisons with the feature found by Spirit at Home Plate. Our results show the conditions at El Tatio produce silica deposits with characteristics that are most Mars-like of any silica deposits on Earth.
The fact that microbes play a role in producing the distinctive silica structures at El Tatio raises the possibility that the Martian silica structures formed in a comparable manner – in other words with the help of organisms that were alive at the time.
Unfortunately it’s impossible for NASA to check if the University of Arizona is correct as the Spirit rover was decommissioned after getting stuck in the Martian soil.
Meanwhile NASA’s current rovers on the red planet, Curiosity and Opportunity, are too far away to check out the fingers.
The space agency are scheduled to launch their next rover in 2020 though so who knows, maybe the mystery will finally be solved in a few years time. We’ll just have to wait and see…