An astrobiologist may have discovered evidence of alien life on Mars after studying images taken by NASA's Curiosity Rover.
Who Is Barry DiGregorio?
Barry DiGregorio, an honorary research fellow at the University of Buckingham, studies gases, rocks, and other materials that serve as indicators of life. The scientist has professional and personal interest in the search for life on planet Mars.
He earlier published a study that revealed rocks on the Red Planet have rock varnish coatings that cover them. He also wrote two books about Mars: Mars The Living Planet (1997) and The Microbes of Mars (2011). The two books concluded that the 1976 Viking Labeled Release experiments found the first evidence of microbial activity on Martian soil.
Now, the scientist claims that images of crystal-shaped features on Mars that NASA shared earlier this year provide evidence of fossilized alien footprints.
Tiny Crystal-Shaped Bumps On Mars
Last month, NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover, which explores the Gale Crater on Mars as part of the U.S. space agency's Mars Science Laboratory mission, found star-shaped and swallowtail-shaped tiny, dark bumps on a Martian ridge.
Scientists said that these features are so tiny they are about the size of a sesame seed. They also look similar to gypsum crystals on Earth.
"These shapes are characteristic of gypsum crystals," said Sanjeev Gupta, Curiosity science team member at Imperial College, London who has studied these crystals in rocks found in Scotland. "These can form when salts become concentrated in water, such as in an evaporating lake."
Indirect Evidence Of Life In The Past
After analyzing these images captured by the Curiosity Rover, DiGregorio thinks that he has discovered trace fossils on Mars that are similar to those found on Earth.
Trace fossils are footprints, tracks, and feces, which were left behind by once-living creatures. They provide indirect evidence of life in the past because these are not the preserved remains of the body of the actual animal.
DiGregorio said that these trace fossils, which date back about 450 million years, offer proof of life on Mars.
Working With Other Experts
DiGregorio said that NASA does not currently see these features as trace fossils. Nonetheless, he said that he will continue to study trace fossils and even plans to present his hypothesis to a conference that will be held in Australia this June. He said that he is currently working with two other experts.