Based on hot spring silica deposits found on Chile, which are similar to the ones found on Mars nine years ago, scientists think they can be proof of past life on the Red Planet. In Earth, these deposits usually contain microorganism fossils, and this similarity, is proof enough to make NASA send another rover to the Home Plate plateau.
After the team from Arizona State University started looking for silica structures in El Tatio similar to those found by the rover, they found out that the ones that were found, were formed by a combination of a biological and non-biological processes.
The researchers choose this particular zone because it is very similar to Mars, with freezing temperatures at night, lots of ultraviolet light from the sun, and thin and dry air. Although the similarity is noticeable, it is still possible that the Mars Silica was formed by a single non-biological process.
But the next Rover to got to the Red Planet, will only be launched in 2020, and Spirit was decommissioned in 2011 after getting stuck in the soft soil of the area. And even after the arrival of the new Rover, it might be necessary for the rocks to be analyzed in a laboratory in Earth, before we could be sure that life once existed on the planet, but we’re getting there.
Although NASA is still deciding where the 2020 Rover should roam, the site, Home Plate, is second on the list of eight possible sites, so it has a good change! In the image bellow you can watch Mars (on the left) versus Chile (on the right) soils for comparison.