MOAR Possible Signs Of Ancient Microbial Life On Mars

This starting to get out of hand.

Weeks after Curiosity detected spikes of methane in the Martian atmosphere, possible evidence of biological activity, a prominent geo-biologist says she sees possible signs of past life in photos of the Martian landscape taken by the rover.

Nora Noffke, an associate professor at Old Dominion University, looked at the structures seen in rocks on Mars and compared them to geological structures on Earth that are formed by microbes living in communities called microbial mats.

The structures belong to a group of microbial structures that form by the interaction of benthic (living on the ground) microbes with sediment dynamics (erosion) in clastic deposits such as sand.

In other words, if such structures do exist on Mars, that suggests the planet may have once harbored microbial life. The microbes would have existed on Mars less than 3.7 billion years ago, according to Noffke.

In the abstract to a paper describing her research, Noffke detailed the similarities found between the structures on Earth and Mars:

“The microbially induced sedimentary-like structures (MISS) identified in Curiosity rover mission images do not have a random distribution. Rather, they were found to be arranged in spatial associations and temporal successions that indicate they changed over time. On Earth, if such MISS occurred with this type of spatial association and temporal succession, they would be interpreted as having recorded the growth of a microbially dominated ecosystem that thrived in pools that later dried completely.”


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