Exploration of lake in Idaho will help to better understand life on Mars

We still don’t know for sure if there was ever life on Mars. However, scientists studying fossils at the site of a former volcanic lake in the U.S. state of Idaho are confident that they can shed light on this issue. 

Exploration of Lake Clarkia. Source: phys.org

Volcanic lakes on Mars and on Earth

American researchers are studying the ancient Clarkia formation in Idaho, which was once a lake. At first glance, this topic has nothing to do with space exploration. But in fact, it is very important to search for traces of life on Mars

The fact is that there is no life on the red planet now. And if it ever existed there, it happened in conditions that were completely different from those places where its samples could usually be found on Earth. We have the remains of animals and plants evenly accumulated in seabed and forests on land. 

But on Mars, life had to primarily exist in volcanic lakes surrounded by mostly dry and cold landscapes. On Earth, scientists don’t often deal with such places. And the Clarkia formation is one of the few places that are extremely similar to what rovers can see on Mars. 

Life in Clarkia Lake 

About 16 million years ago, a lava flow that flowed through the future American state of Idaho blocked the flow of the river system. Clarkia Lake was formed in this way, in which volcanic ash and clay were gradually mixed.

Then the lake completely dried up and turned into a dry rocky area. For millions of years, winds have caused erosion of the surface, completely distorting the relief. However, the layer of sedimentary rocks at the bottom of the former reservoir was powerful enough not only to witness its existence, but also to confirm the existence of life.

Scientists have been exploring Clarkia Lake for 50 years, and during this time they were able to isolate evidence of the existence of not only unicellular life in a volcanic reservoir from samples. Moreover, they could isolate and analyze DNA from the leaves of magnolias that once grew along its shores. 

The methods of studying the remains of organic life are extremely developed and diverse. That’s why scientists are sure that despite the fact that hundreds of millions of years could have passed on Mars since the existence of organisms, it is still possible to find the remains of living organisms. We just need to bring them to Earth, and now NASA engineers are doing this.

According to www.space.com

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