New Delhi. Mars is bereft of life today, but evidence pointed to huge reservoir of water resources, the cradle of life, around 3.7 billion years ago and might suggest similar conditions existing on Earth during the same time, a recent study by scientists from NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston said.
The new study is based on images taken by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbitor and its Compact Reconnaissance Spectrometer for Mars of a basin, named Eridania, on the Red Planet’s southern part. It discovered huge deposits of minerals on its surface estimated to be holding about 210,000 cubic kilometres of water – around nine times more than the combined volumes of North America’s Great Lakes.
According to NASA’s website (www.nasa.gov), the scientists behind the study interpret the evidence for ancient sea-floor hydro-thermal deposits as proof that they were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet’s crust entering the bottom of a large sea in the long past. The study was posted in the website on October 6.
“Even if we never find evidence that there’s been life on Mars, this site can tell us about the type of environment where life may have begun on Earth,” Paul Niles, one of the scientists of NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Houston, involved in the study was quoted as saying in the website. “Volcanic activity combined with standing water provided conditions that were likely similar to conditions that existed on Earth at about the same time — when early life was evolving here.”
Mars has neither water nor standing volcano today. The NASA scientists however estimate that the Maritan deposits reflecting hydro-thermal activity may be 3.7 billion years old. The NASA website said that Earth still had such conditions, where many forms of life thrive on chemical energy extracted from rocks.
“But due to Earth’s active crust, our planet holds little direct geological evidence preserved from the time when life began. The possibility of undersea hydro-thermal activity inside icy moons such as Europa at Jupiter and Enceladus at Saturn feeds interest in them as destinations in the quest to find extraterrestrial life,” it said.