As the evidence grows, it’s becoming more and more probable that there was once life on Mars. Nora Noffke, a geobiologist and associate professor at Old Dominion University in Virginia recently announced that she sees possible signs of life in rock formations on Mars. When these formations are compared with similar structures on Earth, they indicate that microbial life was likely present on the planet.

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In an email to the Huffington Post, Noffke said, “We can detect sedimentary structures in rocks on Mars using the rover images. The structures I describe 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.”

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If there were microbes there, Noffke said, they would have existed less than 3.7 billion years ago. Noffke drew upon comparisons between microbial mats (which consist of trillions of microbes that come together on the floor of the ocean, rivers, streams and other waterways) and the type of structures the Mars rover Curiosity photographed on Mars.

In her paper, Noffke wrote: “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.”

Other scientists are hailing Noffke’s work as some of the “most carefully done analysis” on the subject. This new research comes on the heels of other evidence that Mars once supported life including methane gas – a gas that is “strongly tied to life on Earth” – being found in the Martian atmosphere.

Via Huffington Post

Photos by NASA