On Zoom at 7 PM (Pacific) on Friday, 2021 April 9, the Sunshine Coast Centre of the RASC presents Dr. Janok P. Bhattacharya, Susan Cunningham Research Chair in Geology at the School of Earth, Environment and Society (SEES), McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, whose topic will be The Origin of Life and Martian Possibilities.
Is life on Earth an exceptional occurrence or an inevitable consequence of its habitability? What events in the history of life on earth are exceptional versus inevitable? Could life on Earth have originated elsewhere? These questions are paramount in investigation of ancient watery environments that may have been habitats in the search for early life on Mars.
Although few doubt that Mars had flowing water in its past, there has been significant debate as to how persistent these flows were; whether they were driven by precipitation or melting of groundwater during impacts and how extensive and persistent standing bodies of water were during Mars early Noachian history. There are also debates as to whether Mars ever had a full-fledged ocean.
There is now extensive evidence of meandering channels and deltas associated with Noachian-age crater lake deltas such as found in the Eberswalde and Jezero craters where Perserverance is about to begin exploring. The Eberswalde delta shows clear evidence of meandering streams feeding a series of delta lobes that record a complex history of migration, avulsion and bifurcation, suggestive of a crater lake that may have existed for thousands to hundreds of thousands of years. Jezero channels are straighter and may indicate a shorter-lived systems.
Evidence from Gale crater also supports water-laid sediments, and features that resemble stromatolites have been found that are similar to the earliest forms of prokaryotic life on early earth. This supports the hypothesis that early Mars was both warmer and wetter during the Noachian and contained watery habitats that are now being investigated for evidence of possible extinct Martian life.
You can view this presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gDH_6_0Of0&t=213s