Water on Mars appears to have been a particularly good home for life, according to a new study.
Mars is one of the most likely houses possible for alien life in our solar system, and water is believed to be a key requirement for that life to take hold.
Previous studies had suggested that the red planet would once have been home to lakes of running water, which could have been the home of life.
Download the new Independent Premium app
Share the whole story, not just the headlines
But there is still no evidence to suggest that alien life once lived on the planet – or that there is still evidence of this.
In an attempt to understand what ancient Mars might have looked like and if it was inhabited, scientists tried to understand the chemistry of water that would have been found on the planet billions of years ago.
They do this by looking at the materials left on the planet today, which could offer a clue as to how it once looked.
Recent measurements made by NASA’s Curiosity rover on the Martian surface suggest that the water that was thought to have once covered its surface could have had the right ingredients to support any microbial life that has formed on the planet.
The new study looked at sediments that appeared to have been left in lakes on the Gale crater of Mars. He found that they seemed to have formed in the presence of liquid water that had a pH similar to that of the Earth’s oceans.
This suggests that the first surface of Mars would have been the kind of place that could have served as a home for life, such as the one on Earth.
An article detailing the discovery, entitled “Semi-arid climate and hyposaline lake on the first Mars deduced from the chemistry of water rebuilt in Gale”, was published in Nature Communications.