Indeed, these are reminiscent of structures on Earth from climate zones in which wet and dry cycles alternate, as shown in photographs from Portugal. There, such cracks formed in the regularly waterlogged loamy soil and dried up into such hexagonal structures in the hot sun.
Dry and wet cycles could have been a prerequisite for the emergence of life
On Mars, the structures have been found in a transition zone between a layer of clay and a layer rich in salty minerals. For the researchers, the finds from Mount Sharp in Gale Crater are causing quite a stir, because they hypothesize that dry-wet cycles could be a prerequisite for the emergence of life. For although water is the basic requirement for life, the emergence of life requires balance—not too dry and not too wet. There is a difference between ideal conditions for survival and the conditions for the chemical reactions that give rise to life in the first place.
NASA can study the beginnings of life
Indeed, because these conditions were preserved on Mars, they may have given researchers their first opportunity to study the beginnings of life. On Earth, this stage was buried long ago by tectonic plate movements. The researchers said that Mars does not have tectonic plates, so much earlier periods of the planet’s history have been preserved.
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