Russian scientist, Doctor of Geology and Mineralogy Alexander Portnov has given an affirmative answer to the longstanding question whether life once existed on Mars.
"Life which resembled the Earth life existed on Mars for millions of years and it went extinct just recently, to which there are numerous proofs," Portnov said on Saturday.
He presented a theory, according to which life on Mars died out due to the loss of oxygen from the Martian atmosphere as a result of a huge asteroid impact on the southern part of the planet.
"The Martian surface is red, which is the color characteristic of planets which have or used to have life of our type, i.e. photosynthesis. It is red because the upper layer of the planet, about one kilometer thick, is made of iron hydroxides," the expert said. It took five-times the amount of oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere to make this layer on Mars, he said.
"The process lasted for billions of years. Mars used to have oxygen in its atmosphere, and its evolution painted the planetary surface red," Portnov said.
The scientist drawing his conclusions from Mars images taken by U.S. researchers is also confident that Mars once had water and its quantities were colossal. "Just look at the images of the Martian surface. You can clearly see riverbeds and they are rather new," Portnov said. He added that thick alluvial sediments were a proof of the former existence of oceans.
"Water left traces throughout Mars," he said. "Martian water was not fresh, it was salty and the salts were typical of oceans. They kept water from freezing in low temperatures, up to minus 60 degrees Celsius. I also think that frozen oceans of Mars may be buried under the sand in depressive zones, where the oceanic bottom used to be."
"There is lots of water on Mars, up to 9 million cubic kilometers on the poles alone and even more under the surface," he said.
As to the theory that a giant asteroid might have destroyed life on Mars, Portnov said, "the soil of this planet is magnetic and the Earth soil is not." "The reason is iron oxide, which has been generated by this cataclysm and is creating powerful magnetic anomalies," Portnov said. "At the same time, Mars has everything the Earth has."
He also said that "Mars was once populated by anthropoids - animals similar with those on the Earth." "Their remains have been found on Mars and these remains are not petrified. Life on Mars was similar with life on the Earth but we do not know which of them came into existence first," the expert said in conclusion.
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