Scientists claim that life on Mars may have been discovered nine years ago by NASA’s rover. The Spirit rover captured images back in 2007, showing finger-like rock formations in an area of the planet known as the Home Plate plateau.
The area covers 300 square feet and is part of the Gusev crater close to Mars’ equator. Researchers from the University of Arizona say they decided to take a closer look at the images to see whether Earth had any similar formations. The aim was to figure out how they were formed.
They found pretty much identical structures at El Tatio in Chile, which were formed by hot springs AND micro-organisms. The study focused on El Tatio because the conditions there are similar to those on the Red Planet. Sitting 14,000 feet above sea level, the summer temperatures there often dip below freezing when night falls, and there are large amounts of UV light coming through.
The structures on Mars look very similar to stromatolites, which occur on Earth when microbes form colonies in moist environments, trapping sediment on sticking surfaces. That reacts to calcium carbonate and forms limestone layers.
Dr Steve Ruff from the school of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona said: “We went to El Tatio looking for comparisons with the feature found by Spirit at Home Plate. Our results show the conditions at El Tatio produce silica deposits with characteristics that are most Mars-like of any silica deposits on Earth.
“The fact that microbes play a role in producing the distinctive silica structures at El Tatio raises the possibility that the Martian silica structures formed in a comparable manner — in other words with the help of organisms that were alive at the time.”
So, while they may not exactly be little green men, it seems there really could be life on Mars. The Red Planet is widely believed to be the best chance we have of finding alien life as it once had running water and an atmosphere.