Deep Space Gateway headed to Marte

Will Deep Space Gateway help to solve Mars blueberries mystery?

Was there or maybe is there still life on Mars? The question has periodically been emerging for decades and maybe will get an anser thanks to human missions which will start from the next space station on orbit around the Moon, the "Deep Space Gateway", that Nasa would like to build in the next years. The explorations made by Nasa's rovers did not manage to remove all doubts. In 2004, in particoular, Opportunity rover started its exploratino of Meridiani Planum, a region near to the Mars equator that che other automatic probes had already signalled able to to reveal the presence of iced water.

water that once had to have been liquid, on the face of the typical forms of fround erosion and of some particular geologic structures photographed by Opportunity that scientitsts called “Martian blueberries”. Despite the similarity, it doesn't seem they can be fruits of a plant even distantly relative of that terrestrial(hypothesis that would have opened a lot of questions regarding how was it possible such similarity and if it had not been some kind of Earth “pollination” from Mars, natural or artificial that was).

Marte mirtilli

Opportunity take photos of Martian blueberries

According to Nasa, would deal with iron oxides spherules, i.e. ematite, ranging in size from a few millimeters to some centimeters, whose formation on Earth is the result of the interaction among the water, the ground and living micro-organisms' activity. Close to the “blueberries” Opportunity also photographed laminar structure sediments, which you think can be ancient Matian seaweed fossils.

On Earth such kind of fossiles occurred about 3-3.5 billion years ago: is it possible that life started at the same time on both planets? Many scientists including Cnr researchers Vincenzo Rizzo and Nicola Cantasano and professor Bianciardi of Siena University think it is possibile and that at least in some regions of the “red planet” as Meridiani Planum or Gillespie lake (esplored by Opportunity's twin, the Curiosity rover) had to be at that time covered by colonies of unicellular micro-organisms.

Marte astronauta

Fron Deep Space Gateway to Mars

What both Opportunity both Curiosity were unable to solve is what might have happened to Mars to turn it into a substantially unhospitable planet as it is now. Was it a cataclysm on a cosmic scale which stopped the development of life on Mars? Or has there been time to see the evolution of an ancient culture which has later self-destroyed because of a nuclear war?

Or maybe ancient Martian micro-organism, which were extint on their planets, were able in some way (maybe because of the crash of Mar with another cosmic body) to travel through space, arrive on Earth and restart the process which has lead to the development of life on our planet? Questions that, perhaps, can answer a human exploration that Nasa aims to start in 2030 from the new space station “Deep Space Gateway” which should be built from 2018 and 2026 in orbit around the Moon.

Tags: Unsolved mysteries, Space exploration