Ancient Mars May Once Have Supported Life Due To Comet Bombardment

Posted: Apr 6 2016, 7:46am CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News


Ancient Mars May Once Have Supported Life Due To Comet Bombardment
Ancient impacts on Mars likely enhanced climate conditions for life. Credit: NASA
  • Mars may once have supported Life due to having been Pelted with Meteors
  • Impact Of Comets, Asteroids On Young Mars May Have Made Red Planet Conducive To Life

It has been found that Mars may once have supported life forms due to having been pelted with meteors.

The surface of Mars was most likely hit again and again by meteors, comets and asteroids some 4 billion years ago. Some of these heavenly bodies were as large as one of the states of the US.

This bombardment led to climatic conditions becoming more conducive to the thriving of life forms on the planet. However, that was a long time ago. Today, Mars is a barren and desolate world without any signs of life. 

While ancient Mars may have been just as barren and cold a world as it is today, the intermediate bombardment with meteors and comets may have led to a brief interregnum when life forms multiplied on the surface.

Enough of the surface ice would have melted for water to be plentiful and we know that water is the basis of life. Hydrothermal vents were created by the impacts and so life flourished although for a brief moment.

The dormant water system of Mars was kickstarted and it led to a flowering of biological beings on the Red Planet. Early Mars was probably a crucible for life forms and it was a sort of haven where all sorts of biochemical reactions took place.

"This study shows the ancient bombardment of Mars by comets and asteroids would have been greatly beneficial to life there, if life was present," said Mojzsis, a professor in the geological sciences department.

"But up to now we have no convincing evidence life ever existed there, so we don't know if early Mars was a crucible of life or a haven for life."

The study was published in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. The study was conducted by Mojzsis and Oleg Abramov, a researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona and a former CU-Boulder research scientist under Mojzsis.

4 billion years ago, the solar system was still in its nascent phases of evolution. The comets, asteroids, moons and planets that were in it looked very different from what they are today. The surface of Mars underwent cataclysmic upheavals as craters and vents formed on it. 

A supercomputer was employed to make models of the phenomena that occurred on the surface of Mars some 4 billion years ago. The 3D modeling allowed a peek into the temperatures extant beneath millions of craters on Mars.

The heating and cooling of the rocky regions and the red soil was also analyzed thoroughly. Finally, the impacts from various angles and speeds were noted down in their vast variety. The heating of ancient Mars was the focus of the study.

While Mars was probably a barren world for most of its history, the earth was most likely inhabited by life forms for most of its geological evolution. Despite being bombarded by all sorts of objects, the earth did not lose its capacity to support life, as the computer simulation models showed so clearly. 

"Studies of Mars provide us with valuable information about our own place in the solar system," Mojzsis said. "Our next steps are to model similar bombardment on Mercury and Venus to better understand the evolution of the inner solar system and apply that knowledge to studies of planets around other stars."

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/20" rel="author">Sumayah Aamir</a>
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