A long time ago about 15 million years back, a meteorite hammer into earth's atmosphere creating a crater. With further study, the Ries Crater or Nördlinger Ries crater found later has given a clue on how Mars may have been full of water, with carbon-based life just like on Earth in the distant past.
The Ries Crater, located in southern Germany, has rocks and minerals that are similar to the surface of Mars. Rock samples from the crater site were analyzed and studied by scientists, who are keen on solving the riddle of Mars and its oceans. They discovered by accident a high pH with significant alkali level and nitrogen isotopes, that are good indicators about the prior history of mars.
Tim Lyons, a professor of biogeochemistry at the University of California, Riverside and co-author of the study said that they are not interested if there is life on Mars on the present day. Instead, "they are driven by asking whether there was life on Mars billions of years ago, which seems significantly more likely."
Planetary conditions on Mars in our period, is too cold and arid to keep a significant supply of water on the surface. But, it could have been that Mar's did have water on its surface, aeons ago and with minerals and salt that did keep life alive.
This is according to another study on that possibility. If it might be possible that water existed, then Mar's atmosphere would have a huge amount of greenhouse gas, and carbon dioxide, as remarked by Chris Tino (co-author) of the study.
A sample of suevite rock, which had its origin from 15 million years ago when the Ries Crater was created, is being studied. The same rocks are found in the rims of an ancient crater lake on Mars.
The Mars 2020 rover will be landing on Mars in the Jezero Crater, with proof that it had water a billion years ago, having a similar chemical signature that is found in the Ries Crater.
Whether the thesis is correct and accurate, all the samples collected from Mars 2020 will be watching out for nitrogen isotopes, also if carbon dioxide traces are to be found. Researchers are now gearing to find all these when the Rover accomplishes its mission. Finding all chemicals in Mars will give researchers more data to go over with, and build models for other planets.
Despite the optimism about getting more samples from mars, researchers will have to wait for 10-20 years, before getting their hands on the 'actual' Martian samples, according to Lyon's. Scientists by then will have all the questions that matter with the return of the Mars rover mission. All the preparation is getting laid out to ask the right questions, and the answers are forthcoming in 10-20 years ahead for then labs to find out.
On July 17, the Mars 2020 rover will be leaving the confines of planet earth, and make its ways to Mars on historic rendezvous on another world. The robotic device will be smart enough to navigate on the surface, look for life that might resemble us (ancient Martians) and other tasks.
Back here on earth examining the Ries Crater, might be the gateway to further answers, scientists are looking for. Not all answers are up in the stars sometimes answers are just here.