There have been countless claims of this kind, ever since humans first turned their telescopes to our planetary neighbor… but this story is particularly intriguing, as it comes from an expert source.
Astrobiologist Barry DiGregorio, honorary research fellow at the University of Buckingham, has spent years studying scientific indicators of life on Mars, and has published several books and research papers on the topic.
But there’s a specific theme running through DiGregorio’s work that suggests the first microscopic traces of ancient Martian life were first uncovered by the Viking Lander — the first craft to take physical samples from the fourth planet’s surface, over four decades ago.
Of course, we’ve landed far more advanced machines on Mars since then — including the very active Curiosity Rover, which has been recently exploring the interior of Gale Crater.
DiGregorio claims certain photos taken in this region provide the most convincing data to support his case.
According to Tech Times, he claims a group of tiny, star-shaped bumps along a rock ridge (about the size of sesame seeds) are “trace fossils” of long-extinct life forms, similar to findings on Earth, dating back about 450 million years. Trace fossils are defined as “indirect” evidence of living organisms, and include tracks which life-forms might have left behind.
NASA scientists have alternate hypotheses about the shapes — including Sanjeev Gupta of the Curiosity science team, who suggests they are similar to gypsum crystals on Earth.
“These can form when salts become concentrated in water, such as in an evaporating lake,” Gupta noted in Tech Times.
Regardless, DiGregorio and two other scientists maintain the claim that these objects are trace fossils of some ancient life-form — and the team will present their findings at an upcoming conference in Australia.