Salty Water on Early Mars could have Served Earth-like Life

This artist’s concept depicts the early Martian environment (right) – believed to contain liquid water and a thicker atmosphere – versus the cold, dry environment seen at Mars today (left). Image credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

A new study confirms earlier inferences that the ancient lake waters in Mars’ Gale Crater may have been habitable for microbial life. A team led by Keisuke Fukushi from Kanazawa University (Japan) interpreted published mineralogical and chemical data on the Gale Crater sediments, specifically clay minerals (smectite) to constrain the salinity, pH, and redox states of water that was once in Gale Crater. They infer that the Gale Crater sediments interacted last with mildly saline Na-Cl waters with near-neutral acidity (i.e., pH), similar to Earth’s seawater, and so Gale Crater would have been habitable for many Earth microbes. It still remains a question as to why evidence of life on Mars has not yet been found. READ MORE