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Curiosity rover finds ancient fresh water lake

NASA’s Curiosity rover continues to throw up exciting information about its current home, Mars, where it has found evidence that suggests there was once a fresh water lake in an area known as Yellowknife Bay that was neither too acidic, nor too alkaline to support life.

Announced in a Science Magazine paper (via Wired), the discovery was made by analysing several sedimentary rocks made from smectite clay minerals, which evidently formed in water. It’s believed that the lake these rocks were deposited in would have been able to support chemolithoautotrophs, microbes that are often found on earth surrounding deep sea vents.

curiosity

While that environment no longer exists today, it’s believed that it may have endured for tens of thousands of years and were it still around, placing earth based chemolithoautographs in it would have allowed them to survive on a different planet.

Perhaps most exciting about this latest report however, is that due to the  “higher abundances of chlorinated hydrocarbons in the mudstone compared with Rocknest,” it could theoretically mean that the bed of this lake, made up of mudstone, could contain organic carbon based life, though it cannot be confirmed at this point whether that matter is of martian origin.

KitGuru Says: Quite exciting news considering the potential for finding the remains of organic life not from our own planet. Makes me want to get back on to Kerbal’s new career mode. 

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