According to some reports from scientists at Arizona State University, NASA ‘s might have stumbled upon what looks like signs of past life on the red planet. They have compared the rover’s study of a plateau of layered rocks with active hot spring/geyser discharge channels. You can find these geysers in an area in Chile called El Tatio. What they discovered amazed everyone. According to scientists, the silica deposits found on Mars resemble a lot the biosignatures of those hot springs at El Tatio.
The Mars on El Tatio, Chile
What you can see at El Tatio in Chile resembles a lot what you may see if you were to go to Mars. The environment there presents a very rare combination of elevation, precipitation, evaporation, common diurnal freeze-thaw and extremely high ultraviolet irradiance. So, this led the scientists to believe that these structures in Chile formed the same way as those on Mars. According to them, it is more helpful to compare the environment from El Tatio with that on Mars, than the environment at Yellow Stone National Park, in the United States. What you can find in Chile resembles the environment on Mars a lot more than any other place on Earth.
Mars’ ancient structures
The Spirit rover landed on Mars in January 2004. Its twin Opportunity followed, just a few weeks after, but in a different part of the planet. Their mission was the same: find traces of past water activity on Mars. Their search was supposed to last only three months. Soon after, the rover Spirit found some interesting things. More specifically, outcrops and regolith composed of opaline silica. It stumbled upon those inside the Gusev crater, in an ancient volcanic hydrothermal environment.
Spirit had problems
But the rover Spirit encountered some major problems in 2009. It could not leave as it became stuck in the soft soil of the Red Planet. A year later, after NASA tried hard to find a way to set the rover free, they decided to call it a stationary research platform. Things did not go well. NASA attempted to contact the robot for many months. However, because of the harsh conditions and its immobility, they gave up in 2011.
Still, even if its brother Spirit ended its mission abruptly and in an unexpected manner, Opportunity is still active today. Actually, it is continuing its mission. NASA is also planning a future, more technologically advanced mission, to continue what Spirit started. However, scientists believe that it would be difficult to study and establish if the samples in the laboratories on Earth are indeed displaying concrete signs of past alien life.
All in all, it seems like we are getting closer to revealing the mysteries of Mars, the red planet which fascinated us all and still continues to do so. There is a hope hidden in us that, if scientists ever find strong evidence of alien life, it would be on Mars and not any other planet. Humans! Having preferences even when it comes to planets.
Image source: here