According to the samples dug up and collected by the NASA’s robot rover Curiosity, there seems to be a strong indication that the planet was once habitable. Curiosity collected a wide range of minerals which will allow scientists to figure out Mars’s past.
The results of the data collecting have been published in the ScienceDirect. According to the NASA researcher at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Elizabeth Rampe, these collected rocks might help us figure out exactly why Mars became a barren land.
Scientists have also highlighted that there is strong evidence that Mars was once a wet planet, however today, the majority of the water is contained on the poles and high latitudes in the form of ice. There are also speculations about ancient environmental changes that happened on Mars when it was losing its atmosphere and the water was simply gone into space.
Curiosity drilled four different sites on an area that is presumed to have hosted a large ancient lake. It was discovered that at higher grounds, the rocks were more saturated with silica which would resemble quartz on earth. It is, however, hard to explain how this material actually wound up on Mars since the planet never had plate tectonics as this type of silica is usually formed from it.
The clay found in the samples indicated presence of water which is a very exciting discovery. Scientists think that the water might have had a neutral pH which would increase the chances for the emergence of lifeforms. The age of the layers also coincide with the time on Earth when life was being formed, so by drawing comparisons, they might have been similar at the time and both inhabitable by extension.
The scientists believe that a possible explanation for the different minerals found in the Mars’ surface might be that after the rock sediments settled on the ground, the groundwater that was oxidizing had trickled into the areas that they are now studying. As various different layers of the ancient water were filled with different oxidation levels, there could have existed an environment where microbes might have thrived in.