NASA scientists believe they can find evidence of ancient life on Mars, according to data collected by Perseverance Rover, which discovered the red planet, located in the lake Salda, in southwestern Turkey. The sedimentary characteristics are similar.
According to the Space Agency, the mineral and rock deposits in Salda are the closest combination on Earth to those found around the spacecraft’s landing site, the Jjero Crater, where water is believed to have been present.
Geological information from Lake Salda can help scientists discover fossil traces of microorganisms preserved in Martian sediments, based on analysis and comparison to data collected strongly on Mars.
NASA’s associate scientific administrator Thomas Zurbuchen said, “Salda will serve as a powerful analogue from which we can learn and interrogate.”
In 2019, a team of Turkish and American astrophysicists studied Salda Lake and formulated the thesis that sediments surrounding it would have been eroded by large mounds, which were formed with the help of microbes known as microbialites.
The team behind Perseverance, which is also the most advanced astrobiology laboratory ever sent to another planet, now wants to find out if these microbialites are also present in the Jazero crater.
To that end, scientists will compare the sediments of Salda Lake with carbonate minerals – which are formed from carbon dioxide and water, an important element for life – found on the banks of the Jazero Crater.
“When we find something on persistence, we can go back to Lake Salda to really observe the two processes and their similarities,” said Zurbuchen, giving equal importance to the study of differences found during comparisons.
Rock samples drilled into Mars soil must be stored on the planet’s surface through two future robot missions planned for 2031.