Thursday, April 20, 2006

New Evidence Suggests Mars May Have Had Life

A new mineral history report of Mars is saying that the planet started out relatively wet and temperate, underwent a major climate shift, and then evolved into a cold, dry place strewn with acidic rock. Jean-Pierre Bibring, an astrophysicist from the University of Paris, led the team of scientists from France, Italy, Russia, Germany and the United States. The investigators pieced together the mineral history using data from Mars Express, a mission launched by the European Space Agency.created with Mars Express mission data, Mars would only have been hospitable to life in its infancy.

The first era lasted from the birth of Mars, about 4.6 billion years ago, until about 4 billion years ago. The oldest rock - exposed by erosion, impact or faulting - shows the presence of clay minerals. These minerals, such as chamosite and nontronite, need abundant water, moderate temperatures and low acidity to form.

So, if life did exist long ago on Mars, where would it be? Scientist suspect that the evidence would most likely be found in clay rich rocks and soil north of the Syrtis Major volcanic plateau, in Nili Fossae, and in the Marwth Vallis Regions. That is where the next landers will most likely land.

This makes the computer nerd happy, and you know why, because this means that we might run into some evidence of an alien species in our lifetime. Yay!

Syrtis Major volcanic plateau

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