Supporters of the notion that there was at one time, or could potentially still be life on Mars have been putting forth a treasure trove of evidence that suggest life on Mars might have been possible. Even recent photographs captured by the Mars Curiosity Rover caught a lot of press after those observers said the signs on the surface of the planet – looked to mimic some of the natural phenomena that occur here on Earth.
Those who believed there was at one time life on the Red Planet, or those who believe that life could still be existing in some form on the Red Planet – were given an extra dosage of life when Astrobiology published a paper which a scientist described patterns within the rocks on Mars that appeared to have similar characteristics to those rocks which carry fossilized remains.
That being said, many instantly jumped to the fact that it was likely a reach – and something that would inevitably be disproven. However, it hasn’t been until very recently that Nora Noffke’s theory has been put to rest. Ashwin Vasavada of NASA pointed out that “We do have several members of our team who are always keen to look out for things that might be caused by biological processes, but there was no reason, we felt, to explore that at that site.” It came down to nothing exceptional, from our point of view that wasn’t just a consequence of erosion of this sandstone.”
The Curiosity team though, as well as NASA has held a relatively open view to anything that outside researchers have been willing to contribute, even if just as a matter of observation. The team pointed out that outside analysis oftentimes leads to some of the best research results. The site though at Gillespie Lake is likely not a place where microbial life is currently, or was present in the not-so-distant past. That being said, it doesn’t mean that anything can be ruled out.
At the end of the day, even though the Curiosity Rover has been moving around Mars and making observations for some time – longer than most similar crafts – it remains a relatively unquestioned space. The similarities between Earth and Mars at a structural level, as well as in terms of what their early history looked like – would dictate that life on Mars – to any extent was definitely possible. It just indicates though that this most-recent round of photographs didn’t necessarily produce what many had concluded from them.