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Microbes could have lived in Mars’ ancient lake crater

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity

Photo courtesy of Jet Propulsion Lab/NASA

NASA’s Curiosity rover encountered an ancient dry lake that could have supported microbes called chemolithoautotrophs, according to scientists who reviewed photos and data gathered in the crater, the BBC reports.

These microbes are found in caves and the bottom of the ocean on Earth. They break down rocks and minerals for energy and don’t need light to function. They need elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, sulphur, nitrogen and phosphorous, all of which were found on Mars.

If these organisms existed in Mars’ Gale Crater, scientists say, they could have lasted for millions of years in a conducive environment.

“For all of us geologists who are very familiar with what the early Earth must have been like, what we see in Gale really doesn’t look much different,” Curiosity chief scientist Prof John Grotzinger told BBC News.