Evidence for Martian lakes was discovered in some of Mars's deepest basins and will continue to be examined this coming summer. (Photo : Twitter/NASA)
"The temperature ranges, presence of liquid water, and nutrient availability, which characterize known habitable environments on Earth, have higher chances of forming on Mars in areas of long-lived water and volcanic processes," Alexis Rodriguez, lead author of the paper, said in a press release. "Existing salt deposits and sedimentary structures of possible emplacement within Martian paleo-lakes are of particular astrobiological importance when looking for past habitable areas on Mars."
(Photo : Planetary Science Institute) The photo above shows the floor (top) of a basin where ancient shallow lakes might have formed as well as the floor (bottom) of a Martian high mountain lake in the Tibetan plateau. All of the arrows identify ridges that bear similarity to each other and surround the basin’s floor.
"This is particularly true if the discharge of early Mars groundwater, perhaps liked to hydrothermal systems that were active for billions of years, contributed to the formation of the paleo-lakes, as it is proposed in this investigation," he added.
The discovery of these paleo-lake sites on Mars brings up many new questions, especially considering that Mars' cold and thin atmosphere would produce ponded water that would be much different than the Earth's in terms of behavior.
"In this research we propose a Tibetan region where high mountain lakes show unique sets of landforms that might explain some basin interior features in the studied region of Mars," Rodriguez said.
Further research, which will be conducted in collaboration with the Chinese government, will explore this Tibetan region in order to uncover their potential to act as local astrobiological analog sites; this research will be conducted during the summer of 2016.