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Geologists Explains Mar's Former Consistency

BY Al Abelardo | Jul 22, 2014 08:15 PM EDT

Researcher Gregory Retallack along with some experts from the University of Oregon claims to have unveiled new evidences that Mars may have accommodated microbial life in the past.

In an online journal released earlier this week, Geology, the scientist explains that several photos were taken by NASA's Curiosity rover while exploring the Red Planet. What sparked Retallack's interest was the soil lying at the bottom of a 3.7-billion-year-old impact crater. The University of Oregon geologist argues that the soil is surprisingly Earth-like as revealed by the Curiosity rover.

More specifically, it appears like the cracked surfaces lined with sulfate, along with its ellipsoidal hollows and its sulfate concentrations, make soil deep in Mars' Gale Crater similar to dirt in Chile's Atacama Desert and Antarctica's Dry Valleys.

In light of these findings, the University of Oregon argues that the Red Planet was once a much warmer and wetter environment. Therefore, it may even have accommodated microbial life at some point in the past.

“The new data show clear chemical weathering trends, and clay accumulation at the expense of the mineral olivine, as expected in soils on Earth. Phosphorus depletion within the profiles is especially tantalizing, because it attributed to microbial activity on Earth,” the researcher explains.

Admittedly, the discovery of these soils on Mars is by no means bullet-proof evidence that the Red Planet once had microscoorganisms, although the discovery indicate that the planet was way more hospitable than it currently compared today.

In a past interview, Gregory Retellack wanted to emphasize that NASA’s Curiosity rover should receive due credit for having delivered accurate and detailed information concerning Mars' makeup, although he authored Geology,

“The pictures were the first clue, but then all the data really nailed it. The key to this discovery has been the superb chemical and mineral analytical capability of the Curiosity Rover, which is an order of magnitude improvement over earlier generations of rovers,” the geologist stated.

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