As NASA’s Perseverance rover is roaming the red planet’s surface, scientists are looking for traces of ancient life on Earth.
They are searching for data on a mission at a lake in southwest Turkey.
According to NASA, the minerals and rock deposits at Salda are the closest match on our planet to those found around the Jezero Crater where the rover was deployed and which is believed to have hosted a body of water once.
Data taken from Lake Salda may help researchers as they are looking for fossilized traces of microbial life preserved in sediment previously assumed to have been deposited around the delta and the long-vanished lake it once supplied.
Thomas Zurbuchen, a NASA associate administrator for science, stated in an interview with Reuters:
“Salda … will serve as a powerful analogue in which we can learn and interrogate.”
A group of Turkish and American planetary scientists carried out the study in 2019 on the lake’s shorelines, commonly referred to as Turkey’s Maldives due to the white shores and azure water.
The team in charge of the Perseverance rover, the most high-tech astrobiology lab sent to another planet, wants to detect the presence of microbialites in the Jezero Crater.
They will be putting the beach sediments from Salda side to side with carbonate minerals, formed from carbon dioxide and water, a key ingredient for life.
“When we find something at Perseverance, we can go back to look at Lake Salda to really look at both processes, (looking at) similarities but equally important differences that are really between Perseverance and Lake Salda,” Zurbuchen added.