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Long-gone lake on Mars resembled those on Earth

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Long-gone lake on Mars resembled those on Earth

One step towards finding out is in reconstructing the environment that once existed there: if it was one that would support life or not."We could tell something was going on", Hurowitz said. Though the study hasn't yet confirmed that the living organisms got their origins from the red planet, it has come up with a very optimistic view that Martian lakes, some three billion years ago, were supportive to microbe lives.

Ever since NASA's Curiosity rover landed on the Red Planet in 2012, it has been looking for answers to the same question: "Did the Red Planet ever harbor life?". "We had an 'Aha!' moment when we realised that the mineral information and the bedding-thickness information mapped perfectly onto each other in a way you would expect from a stratified lake with a chemical boundary between shallow water and deeper water". But we have to remember that at the time of Gale Lake, life on our planet had not yet adapted to using oxygen-photosynthesis had not yet been invented.

In its first year, on the crater floor at "Yellowknife Bay", the rover found evidence of ancient freshwater river and lake environments with all the main chemical ingredients for life and a possible energy source for life.

This means it could have sustained different types of lifeforms at once, the researchers say.

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The rover had previously revealed that the Gale crater, situated south of the Martian equator and believed to be about 3.8 billion years old, was once likely an enormous lake that stretched for miles "with water that we would even have been able to drink", said Jens Frydenvang, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Copenhagen and lead author of the new study.

What they found is that the crater once had a variety of environments that could have supported a diverse range of microbial life.

"This matters because it affects what minerals are deposited in the sediments, and also because oxygen is important for life". Close to the surface, there were plenty of oxidizing agents and rocks formed from large, dense grains, whereas the deeper layers had more reducing agents and were formed from finer material.

In an interview with Newsweek, study co-author and Stony Brook University geochemist/planetary scientist Joel Hurowitz explained why Gale crater is a good place for scientists to analyze Mars' climate as it was billions of years ago - NASA's Curiosity rover can be found there, and is sending back more data on how conditions in ancient Martian history may have been conducive to life. "What was causing iron minerals to be one flavor in one part of the lake and another flavor in another part of the lake? These oxidation states would be controlled by the dissolved oxygen content of the water". The recognition of redox stratification in the lake in Gale crater adds new detail to our understanding of ancient martian aquatic environments. The rover found these lying on the lower north slope of Mount Sharp, which is a 3.4-mile-high (5.5 km) mountain that rises out of Gale Crater's center, according to Space.com.

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