Scientists are eagerly anticipating the NASA’s next rover mission on Mars amid speculation it may be able to examine
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft, which orbited the Red Planet, recently discovered evidence that the intended landing site for the rover – Jezero Crater – has hydrated silica in it.
This mineral is good for preserving evidence of life, meaning if there is or was alien life on Mars, this will show proof of it.
Researchers hope that data gathered by the rover will allow them to get their best evidence for whether there is alien life on the planet, as well as how the minerals came to be in the crater.
Writing in the journal Geophysical Letters, experts explained that hydrated silica holds water within its crystal structure.
On Earth, it can form in a number of different environments, such as volcanic glass and the ocean floor.
And because hydrated silica is one of the hardest minerals in existence, it is exceptionally good at preserving softer minerals that get inside it.
Study author Jesse Tarnas, a planetary scientist at Brown University in the US, said: “The oldest evidence – definitive evidence – of microfossils that we have on Earth are usually found in silica.”
Scientists are now hoping that after the rover lands in 2021, they will be able to find evidence of alien life locked away in the Martian minerals.
The rover is to launch in July 2020 and land on Mars in February 2021.
It will feed back data while it is up there, and, if signs are promising, could pack up samples that could eventually be brought back to Earth.
Experts frequently raised people’s hopes that mankind is on the brink of discovering aliens.
In October, Nobel Prize-winning scientist Didier Queloz said he predicted extraterrestrials would be found within 30 years.
He said: “I can’t believe we are the only living entity in the universe.
“There are just way too many planets, way too many stars, and the chemistry is universal.
“The chemistry that led to life has to happen elsewhere.”