Washington: Researchers including an Indian scientist have claimed to have found proof that there was once an ancient lake on Mars that may have been able to support life.
A team of researchers from NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity rover mission, which includes a researcher from Imperial College London, have analysed a set of sedimentary rock outcrops at a site named Yellowknife Bay in Gale Crater, near the Martian equator .
These mudstones have revealed that Gale Crater, a 150 km wide impact basin with a mountain at its centre, sustained at least one lake around 3.6 billion years ago.
The scientists believe that the lake may have lasted for tens if not hundreds of thousands of years.
The team’s analysis showed that the lake was calm and likely had fresh water, containing key biological elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and sulphur.
Such a lake would provide perfect conditions for simple microbial life such as chemolithoautotrophs to thrive in.
Professor Sanjeev Gupta, a member of the MSL mission from the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London and a co-author on the papers, said that it is exciting to think that billions of years ago, ancient microbial life may have existed in the lake’s calm waters, converting a rich array of elements into energy.
The research has been published in the journal Science.