Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Mars - Spotted two places where life could have prospered

According to a research published on the magazine Geology, by the American planetary science institute, there are at least two places on Mars where life could have prospered.

Deep valleys rich of clay minerals that have been formed with the presence of water which supposedly favored the presence of forms of life.

The mineral that might hold the secret of life on Mars is the smectite. Its characteristic is the great capacity of absorbing water or organic molecules, and it is formed with non acid water.

"These clays have been formed with the presence of persistent waterholes, around 2 or 3 billions of years ago" Explained Janice Bishop, one of the researchers that works for the SETI institute and for NASA's Ames research centre.

"That means - she added - that these valleys are unique, and could have been the most hospitable places on Mars, when at the time it suffered a massive water evaporation that conditioned the climate of the whole planet".

These places have been spotted in the area named Noctis Labyrinthus, close to the Marineris valley (can be seen in the picture), a 4.000 kilometers long complex of valleys and canyons that can reach the depth of 7 kilometers.

The research has been made thanks to the high resolution images taken by the American satellite Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (Mro), launched back in the 2005 by NASA to analyze the surface of the red planet.

"These valleys are fantastic places to send the next rovers, too bad that the height differences of the terrain makes landing in those areas really problematic" commented Catherine Weits, first author of the research.

Taken, translated and modified in some parts from here.

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