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World’s Oldest Water Could Shed Light On Alien Life On Mars

First Posted: Dec 17, 2016 02:05 AM EST

Scientists discovered the world's oldest known water in an ancient pool in Canada that is at least 2 billion years old. Could this discovery shed light on extraterrestrial life on Mars?

Oldest Water Even Got Older

In 2013, the scientists found water dating back to about 1.5 billion years at the Kidd Mine in Ontario. However, on the same site, a team of scientists from the University of Toronto found a deeper source of water that is even older.

"When people think about this water they assume it must be some tiny amount of water trapped within the rock," Professor Barbara Sherwood Lollar, study co-author, told BBC News. "But in fact, it's very much bubbling right up out at you. These things are flowing at rates of liters per minute -- the volume of the water is much larger than anyone anticipated," she added.

The first ancient water pool was found at about 2.4 kilometers down in a silver, zinc and copper mine. The scientists said that this provides further knowledge that flowing water can actually be present in the Earth's crust. In fact, the new discovery of flowing water was at 3 kilometers deep.

What is more interesting is that the researchers have found traces of chemicals left by tiny single-celled organisms that once lived in the water.

Alien Life On Mars

Presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting in San Francisco, the work could help show that life can survive below the surface and away from the Sun. The study could shed light on the possibility of alien life beneath Mars' surface.

The water could provide clues as to what might be discoverable elsewhere on other planets as well.

"It's also highly significant when we're exploring our solar system for other places that there might be life, such as Mars or some of the moons around Saturn or Jupiter," Professor Simon George, a geochemist in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at Macquarie University, said as reported by ABC News.

"So, for example, the surface of Mars is extremely inhospitable for life. But many scientists speculate that going below the surface might be where we might find life sheltering from the harsh conditions," he added.

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