Scientists studying the martian surface have discovered evidence of an ancient sea-floor hydro-thermal deposits on Mars that identifies an area on the red planet that may offer clues about the origin of life on Earth.
Observations made by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) reported massive deposits in a basin — Eridania — on southern Mars.
The Eridania basin is believed to have held a sea about 3.7 billion years ago, with sea floor deposits likely resulting from underwater hydro-thermal activity.
These deposits were formed by heated water from a volcanically active part of the planet’s crust entering the bottom of a large sea long ago, the researchers said.
According to Paul Niles of NASA’s Johnson Space Centre, Houston, this site provides compelling details for a deep, long-lived sea and deep-hydrothermal environment.
This is evocative of the deep-sea hydro-thermal environments on Earth, similar to situations where life might be found on other worlds.
A life which doesn’t require excellent atmosphere or temperate surface can easily survive on rocks, heat, and water.
The researchers, in the report published in the journal Nature Communications, estimated that the ancient Eridania sea held about 210,000 cubic km of water.
The mix of minerals identified, included serpentine, talc and carbonate, and the shape and texture of the thick bedrock layers, led to identifying possible seafloor hydro-thermal deposits.
The area has lava flows that post-date the disappearance of the sea.
These evidence shows that this is an area of Mars’ crust with a volcanic susceptibility that also could have produced effects earlier, when the sea was present.