Signs in Martian soil point to habitable conditions over a long period of time

(ORDO NEWS) — Is there life on Mars? Has there ever been? This is one of the biggest questions about our planetary neighbor; research is now pointing to one particular part of the red planet that could have been home to life multiple times over billions of years.

Through careful study of images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, planetary scientists have concluded that they have identified argillaceous deposits in the northern Ladon Valley, the southern Ladon Basin, and the southwestern highlands around the Ladon Basin, all part of the extensively cratered Margaritifer Terra region.

Clay indicates the long-term presence of water, as it forms under neutral pH conditions with minimal water evaporation.

The team believes that water flowed here from about 3.8 billion years ago to about 2.5 billion years ago, which is a long stretch of Martian history. and containing clay at a distance of 200 km [124 miles] is evidence that the lake most likely existed in the Ladon Basin and north of Ladon Valles,” says Katherine Weitz, senior scientist at the Institute of Planetary Science in Arizona.

“The low-energy surroundings of the lake and the presence of clay support an environment that would have been favorable for life at the time.”

While this isn’t exactly proof of life – we need to dig on Mars for fossils to really confirm this – it does suggest conditions that could very well support life. This is the latest study to interpret conditions on Mars from what we can see on its surface and sediments.

Researchers believe that the clays were originally formed around the uplands above the Ladon Basin, and then were destroyed by channels. water and is transported downstream to the lake in the Ladon basin and in the northern part of the Ladon valley.

According to the team, the last water flow should have been along the southwestern basin of Ladon. The deposits here correspond to another part of Mars, the Eberswalde delta, south of the region covered by this study.

“Our results show that argillaceous deposits deposited by running water at Eberswalde were not unusual at this later time because we see many examples of similar young valleys depositing clay in this region,” Weitz says.

We know there is ice on Mars, but the search for liquid water continues. This latest study supports the idea that flowing water was once a vast part of the Martian landscape and may have brought life with it.

Whether transiently or otherwise, the presence of water on Mars is critical to figuring out whether it was possible to support life at some point. The distribution of clay and other stones found by the researchers is consistent with the presence of water.

Moreover, clays are sources of nutrients and environmental stabilizers. Put together water, nutrients, and stable conditions, and organisms’ chances of survival are vastly improved.

“Habitable conditions could have occurred repeatedly in this region, at least intermittently, until relatively late on Mars. history,” the researchers write in a published article.

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