The possibility of finding life on other planets has been a fascinating prospect pretty much from the moment our species could understand the concept. It’s natural to think that we are not alone in this giant universe, so looking to our closest neighbors seems like the best way to begin the search. While the Red Planet shows no signs of harboring any little green men these days, scientists now theorize that ancient meteorite craters on Mars may once have been home for primordial life forms.
Some scientists believe that hot springs were the spawning ground for the earliest life here on Earth. What if the same could once have been true for the ancient Red Planet, only with conditions created by an outside influence: large asteroids and meteorites? Their violent impacts could have melted Mars’ surface rock and heated its water. These super-heated craters apparently could have taken quite a while to cool…perhaps even a million years in some cases. In the meantime, you’d have heat, and you’d have water, and it’s possible that this span of time could have been sufficient to give rise to primordial life.
Scientists Gordon Osinksi and Martin Schmieder have studied similar craters on Earth — namely Canada’s Sudbury Crater and Finland’s Lappjärvi Crater — and discovered that they were similarly home to an extended period of hydrothermal activity. For Sudbury, that activity lasted around 1.6 million years or longer. Sadly, unless it evolved interplanetary travel really, really fast, any life that arose in the cauldrons of ancient Martian craters was doomed to a comparatively brief existence.
Gordon Osinksi and Martin Schmider published their research paper, entitled “Impact-generated hydrothermal systems on Earth and Mars,” on ScienceDirect.com.