A new study conducted by Western University has just revealed that life on Mars may have existed hundreds of millions of years before Earth.
According to Desmond Moser the lead author of the study, it’s even possible that life could’ve thrived between 4.2 billion and 3.5 billion years ago.
Moser went on to conclude that “Giant meteorite impacts on Mars may have actually accelerated the release of early waters from the interior of the planet setting the stage for life-forming reactions.”
Adding, “This work may point out good places to get samples returned from Mars.”
The study analyzed some of the oldest known minerals seen in Martian meteorites such as zircon and baddeleyite grains, utilizing electron microscopy and atom probe tomography.
Moser explained that “97% of the grains exhibit weak-to-no shock metamorphic features and no thermal overprints from shock-induced melting,” the study’s abstract reads.
However, “By contrast, about 80% of the studied grains from the bombarded crust on Earth and the Moon show such features. The giant impact proposed to have created Mars’ hemispheric dichotomy must, therefore, have taken place more than 4.48 billion years ago, with no later cataclysmic bombardments.”
The Western University Study generally acknowledges that the Red Planet formed approximately 4.6 billion years, followed shortly by Earth around 60 million years later. Scientists along with researches conclude that life first appeared on Earth approximately 3.5 billion years ago.
Researches also explained that the number and size of meteorite impacts affecting both Mars and Earth eventually declined, becoming smaller and less frequent allowing the near-surface conditions on both planets to eventually create some form of life.
However, the scientific community is at odds as to when the heavy meteorite bombardment actually ended. It has been suggested there was a ‘late’ phase of heavy bombardment of both planets that ended around 3.8 billion years ago.
Regardless of the exact timeline, there seems to be evidence that life “did indeed exist on Mars.”
Moreover, the Red Planet may finally be giving up its secrets as another study authored by astrobiologist Mark Schneegurt at Wichita State University in Kansas, concluded that Martian microbes could survive in the salty puddles on the Red Planet.
Schneegurt surmised, since there’s life virtually wherever there is water on Earth, logic would suggest that even salty puddles of water resembling ones you might find on Mars could hold life.
According to the new study, bacteria can survive even if completely dried out, suggesting that the Red Planet may be more habitable than previously thought.
Although the Martian atmosphere is cold and thin liquid water most likely cannot exist on its surface for any length of time. However the study reveals that just before dawn, evaporating frost on the Martian surface can drive humidity up to 100%, mimicking parts of the Atacama Desert in Chile, reputed to be the driest place on Earth aside from its poles, and of course, life exists there.
Moreover, a variety of salts often found on the surface of Mars could absorb this moisture and could withstand frigid temperatures because of their briny fluid composition resulting in a lower freezing point than water.
Perhaps the most perplexing mystery regarding life on Mars may have come from an asteroid hitting the Red Planet not 4-billion years ago, but sometime within the past 3-years resulting in an extraordinary find, a crater perhaps the size of several SUV’s exposing a “darker material” just beneath the thin layer of the iconic reddish soil, that has scientists scratching their collective heads.
The image was captured by the High-Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on April 17, 2019, revealing a bluish tint on the surface of the Red Planet.
While scientists are reluctant to speculate what the bluish-tint might be, University of Arizona scientist Veronica Bray suggested the image seen may be exposed ice, though Bray and her fellow researchers are not exactly sure what it is and further research is needed.
Do you think the Red Planet is capable of sustaining life?
Do you think the first forms of life began on Mars rather than Earth?