An astrobiologist suggests crystals observed by Mars Curiosity Rover is proof of life while NASA insists it's just proof of water on Mars.

Barry E. DiGregorio, an honorary research fellow at the University of Buckingham Center for Astrobiology, says he will release a scientific paper of his study on the crystals observed by the Mars rover that is reminiscent of trace fossils or fossilized alien tracks.

While this latest controversy on 'proof of life on Mars' is ripe, NASA states that they are still investigating multiple possibilities that led to the formation of the crystal-like features.

What Are The Crystals?

On Jan. 4, 2018, the NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover captured the image of a rock target called Jura on the Red Planet's Vera Rubin Ridge. The rock formation has tiny crystal-shaped bumps and mineral veins with both bright and dark materials.

The researchers are looking at several possibilities on how the crystals originated. The crystals could have formed when salts become concentrated in water, such as in an evaporating lake. Another possibility is that the crystals formed much later from salty fluids moving through the rock and that the mineral veins indicate subsurface liquid deposits. The different tones of the rock targets could also indicate that the original crystallizing material may have been replaced or removed by later effects of underground water.

"In either scenario, these crystals are a new type of evidence that builds the story of persistent water and a long-lived habitable environment on Mars," says Ashwin Vasavada, Curiosity project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

The area where the Rover spotted rock targets was in the upper part of the Vera Rubin Ridge. The Curiosity rover team have previously found clues that there was a change in fluid chemistry that could be significant for habitability.

Vera Rubin Ridge, located in Gale Crater, is where the Rover found traces of freshwater lakes in 2015.

A new image released by NASA featuring large boulders found near the north pole of Mars is similar to frost heave on Earth. Frost heaves form through repeated freezing and thawing of the ground which can bring rocks to the surface and organize them into piles, stripes, or even circles.

Hard To Prove Proof of Life

Man's quest to find proof of life on Mars began in the 1870s when the Martian canals were first proposed by 19th-century astronomers.

In 1965, the first photos of Mars captured from orbit came from the Mariner after a Red Planet flyby. NASA's Viking missions in the mid-1970s successfully operated the first Mars landers. The mission was able to send back first images of the planet's surface.

The Pathfinder mission studied the geology of Mars but found no traces of water or life.

It was the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity from the Mars Exploration mission that found evidence that water flowed on Mars sometime in the past.

Ten years ago, researchers discovered water ice beneath the surface of Mars for the first time.

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