Rovers have been roaming around Mars and sending photos of the planet’s geographical and biological structures and possible fossils. However, with the abundance of photos comes the abundance of theories and misinterpretations.
Scientists at the University of Edinburgh and Oxford are urging experts to be more careful about concluding whether a fossil is on Mars’ surface.
The two scientists wrote that scientists should be more careful of “fake fossils” scattered on the surface of Mars. Recently, photographs from NASA showed what seems like a mushroom-like shape that has been spotted near Olympus Mons – one of the tallest volcanoes in the solar system.
Recently, photographs from NASA showed what seems like a mushroom-like shape that had been spotted on the surface of Mars. This is a sign that there are fake fossils scattered all over the surface of Mars.
The two scientists suggest that there could be another explanation for these structures (other than it being a landmark or ancient Martian buildings). They write, “One possibility is that these shapes were formed by cosmic dust particles deposited around an eroded surface and then later lit up by the sun, but this hypothesis deserves further scrutiny before it can become firmly established.”
The scientists, who were at the University of Edinburgh and Oxford Universities, warned their peers to be more careful when concluding whether a fossil is artificially created or not. They believe that it is possible for fossil-like objects on Mars’ surface to just be real rocks that have been eroded by wind, water, and/or ice.
Everyone knows that NASA landed rovers on Mars in 2004. There are several images and videos of the landing that are widely used to prove that life existed on the Red Planet. That being said, some scientists believe that these rocks could just be “fake fossils” scattered on Mars’ surface because it looks like Earth rocks but has an odd shape. So far, no one has been able to definitively identify these “fossils” as anything from Earth or Mars yet…
Since scientists can only rely on the photos sent by the rovers, there remains a level of difficulty in identifying whether a certain object of interest indicates life or something else. Experts do not want to conclude the possibility of life or extinct civilization if these photos are not what they are thought to be.
“Fake fossils” is the term used for pseudo-fossils or objects that mimic the physical appearance of something alive. Some anomaly hunters have interpreted fake fossils as mushrooms or crabs, so the experts carefully examine their limited resources.
Sean McMahon, an astrobiologist from the University of Edinburgh and Julie Cosmidis, a geobiologist from the University of Oxford, warned scientists to be careful of the non-biological mineral deposits that resemble fossils. Both scientists say that many abiotic processes may cause pseudo-fossils to form, which closely mimic small creatures that were thought to believe inhabited Mars before. Mars is rumored to have a preserved bug.
According to McMahon, rovers will always come close to objects resembling fossils when these objects are only byproducts of chemical processes. Even here on Earth, scientists fall into the trap of mistaking an ancient rock for a microorganism fossil.
Another example of this scenario is when a rover captured what seems like a piece of log on Mars’ surface (Sol 115). Scientists will now have to be extra careful to identify if it is biological or not. Here are some ways to do it: chemical garden (forming pseudo-fossils through mixing chemicals), investigating putative microfossils on Mars, and additional studies and experiments in the physics and chemistry of Mars, which could also involve a better understanding of Earth’s fossils and rock records.
This warning that McMahon and Cosmidis said is crucial to the scientists’ study of possible Martian existence and the possibility of finding real fossils on the planet.