It was recently revealed that NASA found high levels of oxygen on Mars. This discovery suggests that life once existed on Mars.
Another recent finding includes proof of ancient lakes on Earth’s closest neighbour, as well as the belief water once flowed freely there.
The discovery of the manganese oxides could be the strongest clue that life once existed as they are formed here on Earth by “atmospheric oxygen or microbes,” said Nina Lanza, a planetary scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.
She added: “Now we’re seeing manganese oxides on Mars, and we’re wondering how the heck these could have formed?
“These high manganese materials can’t form without lots of liquid water and strongly oxidising conditions.
“Here on Earth, we had lots of water but no widespread deposits of manganese oxides until after the oxygen levels in our atmosphere rose.
“One potential way that oxygen could have gotten into the Martian atmosphere is from the breakdown of water when Mars was losing its magnetic field.
“It’s thought that at this time in Mars’ history, water was much more abundant.”
With no magnetic field to protect the surface of Mars, ionising radiation split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen – the former then began being released as Mars gravity is weak and hydrogen is extremely light, which meant that the hydrogen atoms floated away.
However, oxygen atoms are much heavier and seeped into the rocks, giving Mars the rusty, red look.
Lanza continued: “It’s hard to confirm whether this scenario for Martian atmospheric oxygen actually occurred.
“But it’s important to note that this idea represents a departure in our understanding for how planetary atmospheres might become oxygenated.”