As humanity looks to the stars for answers about the universe’s biggest mysteries, some researchers look back to Earth to find evidence that can contextualize what’s out there.
One of Earth’s closest celestial neighbors is the Red Planet, Mars. If you pull out a telescope and look at Mars right now, you’ll see a dusty, empty planet with no lakes, no rivers, and no life to speak of. However, researchers with NASA believe that it wasn’t always this way.
New research shows that one particular lake in Turkey could be the key to understanding the history of Mars.
Lake Salda is genuinely picturesque, a gorgeous example of the stunning Turkish countryside, and a popular tourist destination. However, NASA has recently begun paying close attention to Lake Salda due to the composition of the soil there. The lake shares a surprising amount of geology in common with the Martian Jezero crater. NASA researchers believe that Lake Salda could be a great example of what Mars looked like millions of years ago.
“What makes it special are the living bacteria, the single-cell organisms, which have their own natural structure,” stated geological engineer Servet Cevni.” The Jezero crater has a strong resemblance to the lake, in the same way, humanity at the end of the day came from single-cell organisms, from a simple structure. In Salda, this process is still ongoing. Salda has remained unchanged for 3.5 million years”.
Missions to Mars are expensive and time-consuming. When NASA or a similar space agency sends a probe to the Red Planet, it represents millions of euros of equipment and years of hard work. As such, any preparation researchers can get toward gearing their equipment to finding what they’re looking for can be a huge help.
In the case of the Jezero crater, NASA scientists hope that the data they pull from Lake Salda helps them find a real game-changer: evidence of life on Mars.
Presently, the only planet in the universe we know to host life is Earth. If scientists can find evidence of life on Mars, it could teach us a lot about how life forms. Not to mention, it would likely change the way humanity sees itself. Suddenly, we would know we’re not alone in the universe, that life can evolve on planets other than our own.