Presence of carbonates suggest Mars had water in the past

Mars once had water and habitable environment to support life, say scientists after finding the traces of iron and calcium carbonate ores on the Red Planet. According to scientists, these carbonates are widely spread on the Martian surface that suggests climate was a lot different on the ancient Mars than it is today.

“Identification of these ancient carbonates and clays on Mars represents a window into history when the climate on Mars was very different from the cold and dry desert of today,” said Janice Bishop of the SETI Institute in the US.

Presence of carbonates and sand means, the climate was lot warmer and it had liquid water in the past. Warm, humid atmosphere and presence of water are the basic necessities for the survival of life forms. Thus, researchers cannot the deny the possibilities of the existence of life several million years ago on the Red Planet.

Scientists have long debated about the presence of water molecules on the Martian surface in the past. However, if water did flow once then the bedrock must contain carbonates and clays. Scientists have also found water marks and pebbles on the Mars that pointed towards the existence of rivers in the past.

For the research, study authors observed Huygens basin on the Mars. The 450-km long basin contains both iron and calcium rich carbonate samples on the bedrock and clay minerals. According to researchers, carbonate and clay samples are over 3.8 billion years old.

Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) installed on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter was used to take the image of the Hugens basin for the research. Later scientists compared the images from the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) and Context Camera (CTX) on the orbiter, as well as the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on the Mars Global Surveyor, to confirm the findings.

The study is still in preliminary stages and there are lot of things to explore about the Martian surface. Studying the Martian atmosphere and how it change over the time will help in predicting the future of Earth and it might help us in preventing our planet from becoming a deserted place like Mars.

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