Based on the observations made by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), NASA scientists have found evidence of ancient seafloor hydrothermal deposits at the Eridania basin on Mars. Scientists believe this new finding—the details of which were published in the journal Nature Communications—may also provide insights into how life originated on Earth.

Eridania basin on Mars

Eridania basin is located in the southern region of Mars, and as per a new NASA study, this basin might have harbored a sea approximately 3.7 billion years ago. The study suggests that an underwater hydrothermal activity occurring in this sea caused the deposits to accumulate on the seafloor.

This hydrothermal activity, according to scientists, resulted due to a volcanic activity at the surface of the Red Planet.

Deposits contained a mixture of minerals, talc, carbonate and serpentine

Scientists estimate that the Eridania sea had approximately 210,000 cubic km of water. The hydrothermal deposits could be identified due to the texture and shape of the bedrock layers. The Compact Reconnaissance Spectrometer installed on MRO also identified the contents of the deposits, which included a mixture of talc, minerals, carbonates and serpentine.

Paul Niles of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston revealed that no microbial life was identified in the samples. Niles, however, considers it a highly valuable discovery which might offer insights into the ancient conditions existing on Earth and how life evolved on our planet.

Similar deposits on Earth were the earliest proof of life on Earth, but the geological records of such deposits are now almost impossible to trace due to the activity of Earth’s crust. Scientists now consider seafloor deposits on Mars as an ideal candidate for simulating ancient conditions on Earth.

About MRO

MRO was launched in August 2005.

After completing a journey of 211 days, this spacecraft reached the orbit of Mars on March 10, 2006, and finally commenced its primary science phase from November 2006. MRO is equipped with a variety of scientific instruments, including spectrometers, radars, and cameras, which allow NASA scientists to analyze the surface conditions, ice and mineral deposits on the Red Planet.

In the past 11 years, MRO has sent some highly fascinating and detailed images from Mars, which allowed allowing scientists to make amazing discoveries. Probably, the most interesting discovery made by MRO was finding the evidence of water and ice on Mars.