Ancient lake on Mars harboured diverse microbial life: study

A long-lasting lake on ancient Mars may have provided suitable environmental conditions for different types of microbes to exist simultaneously more than three billion years ago, scientists have found using data from NASA's Curiosity rover mission.

Researchers found that the lake in Mars' Gale Crater was stratified. This means that the water exhibited sharp chemical or physical differences in different parts of the lake. The shallow water was richer in oxidants than deeper water was, researchers said.

"These were very different, co-existing environments in the same lake," said Joel Hurowitz of Stony Brook University in the US. "This type of oxidant stratification is a common feature of lakes on Earth, and now we've found it on Mars," said Hurowitz.

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