Mars explorers searching for signs of ancient life could be fooled by fossil-like specimens created by chemical processes, research suggests. The study was published in the Journal of the Geological Society. may contain numerous types of non-biological deposits that look similar to the kinds of fossils likely to be found in the planet ever supported life, a study says.
Telling these false fossils apart from what could be evidence of ancient life on the surface of Mars – which was temporarily habitable four billion years ago – is key to the success of current and future missions, researchers say.Astrobiologists from Edinburgh and Oxford reviewed the evidence of all known processes that could have created lifelike deposits in rocks on Mars.
They identified dozens of methods that can produce structures that mimic those of microscopic, simple lifeforms that may once have existed on Mars.Among the lifelike specimens, these processes can create are deposits that look like bacterial cells and carbon-based molecules that closely resemble the building blocks of all known life.
The signs of life can be so closely mimicked by non-living processes, the origins of any fossil-like specimens found on Mars are likely to be very ambiguous, the team says.They call for more excellent interdisciplinary research to shed more light on how lifelike deposits could form on and thereby aid the search for evidence of ancient life there and elsewhere in the solar system.