Ancient bombardment of asteroids, comets enhanced life-supporting conditions on Mars

A study that attempts to shed light on the transformation of Mars explains circumstances that may have given way to life in the Red Planet. Today, Mars is inhospitable, but it may have supported life for a few million years about four billion years ago.

According to the researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder, their study have led them to believe that developments that took place on Mars billions of years ago may have created an environment conducive to life.

The co-author of the study, Dr. Stephen Mojzsis, said that the bombardment of comets and asteroids on Mars likely warmed the planet a bit to the level it could support life if at all life was present at that time. Nevertheless, Mojzsis says there is no solid evidence to-date that life ever existing on Mars.

The study established that about four billion years ago, Mars was struck by huge comets and asteroid almost the size of West Virginia. The scientists believe from their analysis that huge impact resulting from the collision of the massive rocks would have given way to enough heat to melt the planet’s subsurface ice. Heating of subsurface ice would have increased the atmospheric pressure of Mars, thus heating the planet further to the point of restarting its dormant water cycle.

Restarting the dormant waters would have further resulted in hydrothermal systems capable of supporting microbes-like life on Mars.

The researchers admit that the collision of asteroid and comets alone wouldn’t have been enough to sustain life on Mars perpetually. They believe that the warming of Mars would have made the planet conducive to life for only a few million years after which Mars would have returned to its usual cold condition that known to be hostile to life.

To demonstrate their understanding of the events that may have temporarily warmed Mars and made it possible for life to freely survive there, the researchers created a huge 3-D model of the planet. The model shows simulation of heating process from the collision of large rocks that may have warmed up Mars a bit.