Mars is our friendly red neighbor, so it’s not surprising that the dusty red planet has long inspired intrigue and awe in humanity, along with plenty of theories about what does or doesn’t exist on the surface. Naturally, one of the most popular theories is that the planet once supported life, which is a theory that gets even more fire under it when pictures like the recently uploaded by NASA’s Perseverance rover pop up. Photos snapped by the rover on Aug. 18, 2023, depicted two boulders that resemble a shark’s fin and a crab claw if you look close enough.
The “shark fin” and “crab claw” on Mars were located within what was once a lake.
Now, do a couple of familiarly-shaped rocks on the surface of Mars mean that the planet once supported life? Of course not, but, like seeing shapes in clouds, it’s fun to come up with theories. The shark fin and crab claw comparisons are even more fitting considering the fact that the Perseverance is currently scooting along an ancient river delta that used to be a 16,000-foot-deep lake.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that humans have projected our tendency to notice familiar patterns on the surface of Mars. The most famous example is the “Face on Mars” picture from NASA’s Viking 1 spacecraft, which appeared to depict a face sculpted on the planet’s surface. Of course, this led people to speculate that Martians sculpted the face and were either once living on the surface or were currently living on the planet, hidden underground.
NASA scientists explained that the Face on Mars was merely a trick of shadows and light, but people are going to always wonder about what’s out there in space. Of course, we’ve pretty much ruled out Martians since then or the possibility that intelligent life could have ever existed on the planet, but there’s always the chance that new data could reveal that it once had life in a different era. At this time, though, there hasn’t been any solid evidence.
NASA scientists explained that the Face on Mars was merely a trick of shadows and light, but people are going to always wonder about what’s out there in space.
Of course, there’s certainly potential that life once existed on Mars, though it would have likely been microorganisms at most. Evidence suggests that there may have been liquid water on the surface of Mars at one point, which would have supported this kind of life, but just because habitable conditions existed doesn’t mean that there was habitation going on. But lack of evidence also doesn’t completely rule out past life on the surface, as there’s plenty of the planet that we have yet to explore.
Mars has always held a particular interest for exploration, both because we’ve been able to see the planet since ancient times and because its proximity to us means that it is reachable. There’s plenty we can learn from studying the planet, and the presence of water and ice on Mars may be able to allow the planet to serve as a fuel depot for deeper space expeditions in the future. This is something we’ll hopefully find out more about with NASA’s ongoing Artemis mission.
Of course, there’s certainly potential that life once existed on Mars, though it would have likely been microorganisms at most.
NASA is gearing up for the first crewed mission to the Moon in 50 years with the Artemis program. After that, the Artemis program also hopes to send a crewed mission to Mars in the near future. Maybe then we’ll finally find concrete evidence that life once existed on the planet.