Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher is curious about the possibility of alien life on Mars and wants to know if some civilization has ever existed on Mars. On Tuesday, the California Republican put this query in front of space scientists from NASA who were testifying before the House of Representative's Subcommittee on Space. The typical US congressional hearing—on the subject "Planetary Flagship Missions: Mars Rover 2020 and Europa Clipper"—took place in Washington on Tuesday.

Ancient Mars was completely different from what it is today

NASA has plans to send another rover to Mars in 2020 and is currently working on a spacecraft that should be able to accomplish repeated passes over Europa to collect detailed data about the ocean.

Kenneth Farley, a project scientist for NASA's Mars Rover 2020 Project, was testifying in his capacity before the Subcommittee when Rohrabacher asked one extra question at the end of his allotted time.

Rohrabacher said NASA research has suggested that the Mars was entirely different “thousands of years ago” from what it is now, so is it possible that there was a civilization on this planet thousands of years ago?

Kenneth Farley, a project scientist for NASA's Mars Rover 2020 Project, answered Rohrabacher’s question, revealing that Mars was actually different billions of years ago, and NASA has found no evidence so far about the existence of life on Mars. Rohrabacher pressed further, asking Farley whether he would rule out the existence of a civilization on Mars.

Farley replied that it is “extremely unlikely.”

Possibility of life on Mars

The possibility of life on Mars is a subject that keeps on igniting the imagination of many people on Earth. Mars is not only close to Earth, it is also similar to Earth in many ways, making scientists believe that this planet might have harbored some sort of life in the past.

Scientific efforts to search life on Mars began several decades ago, and still continue today through various telescopic investigations or space missions carried out by space agencies of various countries.

Modern scientific Mars missions focus on searching for water, biomarker gases, and specific compounds in the soil, rocks, and atmosphere of the planet.

NASA's recent studies have also suggested that ancient surface environment on Mars probably had liquid water. Despite that, scientists have had no success in finding any evidence of life (past or present) on Mars.

During the hearing on Tuesday, NASA said that Mars 2020 mission will try to accomplish some high-priority science aims including the possibility of life support on the Red Planet. The launch of Mars 2020 Mission is scheduled for 2020, and if successful, the probe will stay on the Red Planet for next 687 Earth days, searching for the signs of ancient life on the planet.