Strange 'Funnel' Spotted in Mars! 'Bulls Eye' for Signs of Life?

Admin | Published 2016-11-13 16:44

A strange landform in Mars caught the eye of researchers. They also believed that presence of water might had been involved in this 'funnel' formation.

Researchers have looked into two funnels or ancient 'ice cauldrons' on Mars' surface. They used the photograph captured by NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. They initially got interested in it for its 'strange' formation. Eventually they came to believe that these funnels or depression were potential areas for life formation and could house three essential ingredients of life: water, heat, and nutrients. The new technology 'stereoscopic photographs' allowed researchers to extract three-dimensional information from a two-dimensional photograph.

Photo by Joseph Levy

One of the funnels being examined is located within an impact crater in Mars' southern hemisphere. It is located in Hellas Planitia basin. It is said that the Hellas Planitia is the biggest visible impact crater found in the Solar System. The second funnel-like structure they found were located in Utopia Planitia basin in the Galaxias Fossae region of Mars. Joseph Levy, the lead researcher from University of Texas, arrived at some conclusions on how those two funnels were formed. Galaxias could have formed due to an impact on the surface of Mars, while Hellas Planitia could be due to volcanic activity.

Iceland ice cauldron, Photo by Joseph Levy

These depressions are similar to what Earth have in Iceland and Greenland and the process on how they were made could be similar also. A warm nutrient-rich environment could have thrived in Mars after they were formed. They concluded in their report published in Icarus, "The possibility of liquid water formation during or subsequent to volcanism or an impact could generate locally enhanced habitable conditions, making these features tantalising geological and astrobiological exploration targets."    
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