Researchers from the University of Colorado at Boulder (CU-Boulder) found evidence of the existence of an ancient lake that could be filled with water suitable for life.
The research studied the area around Meridiani Planum, where the rover's landing site Opportunity. Scientists have found in it a recessed portion, the surface of which is partially covered with salt deposits, which is a sign of long-term water evaporation. According to preliminary calculations, the lake covers an area of over 18 square miles (46 square kilometers, 6).
Using digital mapping and mineralogical analysis, scientists found that the lake no more than 3, 6 billion years. They came to the conclusion that this could be one of the last large lakes on Mars.
Based on the thickness of the salt, the researchers believe that the salinity of the Martian lake was at salinity of Earth's oceans. Thus, the area could be suitable for life bacteria.
"One only salinity seems as if the lake would be suitable to sustain life for much of its existence," - said Brian Hynek, an associate professor in the Department of Geological Sciences of CU-Boulder and lead author of the study. He noted that other factors such as the level of acidity, were not included in the program of study.