Astronomers and scientists have been working hard to find signs of life on Mars through complex missions and extensive research. Now, a new study suggests that an area of ​​the red planet may have been “repeatedly habitable” until relatively late in the history of Mars. What led scientists to this conclusion was the discovery of clay-bearing deposits in the Margaritifer Terra region of Mars. The region has some of the most widely preserved landforms, formed by running water on its surface.

“The presence of clay suggests an environment conducive to life, as clay forms and remains stable at neutral pH conditions, where water persists for long periods of time, minimizing evaporation to form other minerals such as sulfates ,” said Catherine Weitz, senior scientist at the Planetary Science Institute and lead author of the paper published in Icarus.

For the study, researchers analyzed data from NASA’s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE), the Camera for Background (CTX), and the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft.

According to Weitz, they scanned the orbital images and found clay-bearing deposits in the highlands north of Ladon Valles, south of the Ladon Basin, and around the Ladon Basin. She emphasized that the colorful, light-colored layered sediments indicated a low bedding dip and that there was clay within 200 kilometers of the area. This suggests the existence of a lake within the Laden Valley and the Laden Basin, the scientist said.

Weitz further emphasized that factors such as the low-energy lake environment and the presence of clay would have provided favorable conditions for life on at the time. It has been observed that there was once water flowing on the surface of the Bin Laden Basin area. It started about 1.8 billion years ago and ended about 2.5 years ago.

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The researchers concluded that the clay first accumulated in the older highland terrain of the Laden Basin. Later, water eroded the clay-containing sediments, forming the Laden Valley channel. The clay is then eventually deposited in lakes in the Laden Basin and northern Laden Valley region.

“Our results suggest that tap-water-deposited clay deposits in Eberswald are not uncommon in recent times, as we have seen many similar examples of clay deposits in valleys in the region,” Weitz Say.



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