- Posted December 10, 2013 by
Life in Mars
NASA says Curiosity rover has found signs of an ancient freshwater lake on Mars that existed 3.5 billion years ago and may have supported small organisms for tens of millions of years, but doubts remain of the origin of the organic matter.
The findings were published Monday on the NASA website and in the journal Science and were presented at a meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco and relate to a site on Mars called Gale Crater in Yellowknife Bay. The site was first drilled by Curiosity ten months ago.
Curiosity analyzed sediment from the bed of a long vanished lake and found that it harbors substantial amounts of organic matter of some sort, although scientists have pulled back from attributing it to life.
It is thought possible that over 4 billion years ago Mars may have had enough fresh water on its surface to generate clay minerals which may have supported life but that it underwent drying that left any remaining water too acidic and briny to support life.