Rocks turned up by a meteorite slamming into Mars offer the best signs so far that life once existed there -- and possibly still does -- according to a theory published Tuesday.
Professor John Parnell and Dr. Joseph Michalski published a paper in the scientific journal Nature Geoscience building a case that rocks from a Martian crater could reveal some type of life similar to that found on Earth.
"We know from studies that a substantial proportion of all life on Earth is also in the subsurface and by studying the McLaughlin Crater we can see similar conditions beneath the surface of Mars thanks to observations on the rocks brought up by the meteorite strike,”Parnell told the British Telegraph newspaper.
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“There is no reason why there isn't bacteria or other microbes that were or still are living in the small cracks well below the surface of Mars.”
The rocks Parnell and Michalski studied were launched from miles below the surface of the planet and appear to be made up of clays and minerals altered by water - the element that is essential to life on Earth.
"It's very easy to draw parallels between what Mars looks like and what the early Earth might have looked like, because the rocks on Earth that we see now have been recycled a lot in ways that they have not been recycled on Mars,” Parnell said.
"Mars has not had things like erosion and shifting of mountain ranges to destroy vital evidence from the past. So studying meteorite craters of Mars may well actually give us an indication to how life on Earth began.”
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