Mars Rover Finds “Best Sign Yet” of Microbial Life
NASA says its Mars rover Spirit has discovered “the best evidence yet” of a past habitable environment on the planet’s surface. Spirit found a patch of silica-rich soil earlier this year, which scientists believe is a promising sign that Mars hosted at least niche environments that could have potentially harbored life. Spirit has been exploring a plateau called Home Plate, where it discovered silica-rich soil in May.
Researchers are now trying to determine what produced the patch of nearly pure silica. So far, they believe that the deposits must have come from an ancient hot-spring environment or a fumarole, in which acidic steam rises through cracks. On Earth, these types of environments are teeming with microbial life, said rover chief scientist Steve Squyres.
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