#Mars #Alien – Mars Funnel Of Life: Scientists Insist Strange Funnel Surface Features Best Chance At Finding Alien Life : The search for life on Mars might just center around a strange funnel-shaped surface feature inside a crater, scientists say in a new study. Located in what is known as the Hellas depression, the feature could hold the “ingredients of life.”
The Daily Mail reported last week that a new study suggests that volcanic activity on Mars might have been a key contributor to the odd funnel depression that could be Mars’ best chance to host living organisms. Scientists have believed that a volcano located beneath a glacier on Mars’ surface created the Hellas depression, but new data taken from stereoscopic images and digital elevation models indicates that the formation is not only volcanic in origin, it might be similar to “ice cauldrons” on Earth. Such a formation could create an environment warm enough to host liquid water and chemical nutrients that might support life.
Ice cauldrons are found on Earth in places like Iceland and Greenland, created when volcanoes erupt under an ice sheet. On Mars, these same conditions potentially could host life.
Joseph Levy, a research associate and lead author of the study from the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, explained the reasoning behind the study’s site choice.
“We were drawn to this site because it looked like it could host some of the key ingredients for habitability – water, heat, and nutrients.”
The Hellas depression, as noted, is located in a crater at the edge of the Hellas basin. Ancient glacial deposits surround the feature.
Nor is the feature, which was first discovered in 2009 in images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, unique. It is similar to a depression in the Galaxias Fossae region.
“These landforms caught our eye because they’re weird looking. They’re concentrically fractured so they look like a bull’s-eye. That can be a very diagnostic pattern you see in Earth materials,” Levy admitted.
The study concluded that the two funnel structures were formed in different ways. The Galaxias Fossae depression seems to be a product of an impact, while the Hellas depression showed several indications of volcanism.
Levy and his fellow researchers suggest that such depressions on Mars should be considered as prime locations for the search for life on the Red Planet. The Hellas formation is of particular interest due to its possible volcanic origins and the potential for life-fostering properties.
The search for life on Mars might have received a boost or perhaps even a confirmation (or denial) of its existence last month had the Rocosmos and European Space Agency’s lander been able to continue its mission on the planet’s surface. Called Schiaparelli, the lander was an astrobiology project specificallly designed to search for life on Mars. As the Inquisitr reported, Schiaparelli exploded on impact with the surface on October 19, a victim of its parachute deploying too early (although conspiracy theorists oddly accused NASA of shooting down the craft to maintain its scientific dominance).
Beyond Mars, the search for life outside the bounds of the Solar System received help from the Parkes Observatory in Australia this week. According to Space.com, the telescope joined the $100 million Breakthrough Listen project, the astronomical initiative launched by Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, becoming the third telescope in the line-up that includes the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Automated Planet Finder at Lick Observatory in Northern California.
“The addition of Parkes is an important milestone,” Milner said in a statement. “These major instruments are the ears of planet Earth, and now they are listening for signs of other civilizations.”
The Parkes dish’s first Breakthrough Listen observations were received from the nearest star system, Proxima Centauri, where a planet has been detected that exists in the star’s habitable zone. source:inquisitr