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Penn State researcher sees potential for ancient life on Martian surface

7/16/2019

Francisco Tutella
July 15, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Photos taken by the Mars Curiosity rover may show a desolate rocky landscape to some, but to Penn State researcher Christopher House, the photos show potential for ancient life.

Professor of geosciences and director of the NASA Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium, House is a participating scientist with NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission tasked with determining whether the red planet’s Gale Crater could have supported life 3.5 billion years ago. According to the scientist, the research suggests that it could have.

“Gale Crater appears to have been a lake environment,” House said, adding that the mission has found a lot of finely layered mudstone in the crater. “The water would have persisted for a million years or more.”

The lake eventually filled with sediment and turned to stone, which then eroded, House said. The same process happened to the sand dunes that came after the lake. More 

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