SCIENTISTS have identified a spot on Mars which could possible home some form of life.
Life on the Red Planet may soon be proved after scientists pinpointed a strange spot which could hold the key to revealing living organisms elsewhere in the universe.
The depression, which is being analysed by scientists at the University of Texas, was likely formed by a volcano which was hidden beneath a glacier.
Experts have touted the location on the Red Planet as possibly having a warm, chemical-rich environment that could be perfect for microbial life.
Lead author Joseph Levy, a research associate at the University of Texas Institute for Geophysics, said: “We were drawn to this site because it looked like it could host some of the key ingredients for habitability – water, heat and nutrients.”
The depression is located at a crater on the edge of the Hellas basin, which is surrounded by glacial deposits and is near to another similar depression.
Mr Levy and his team first noticed the depressions in 2009 when he spotted crack-like features on the region in pictures taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter that resembled “ice cauldrons” on Earth.
The expert said: “These landforms caught our eye because they’re weird looking. They’re concentrically fractured so they look like a bullseye.
“That can be a very diagnostic pattern you see in Earth materials.”
The team then took stereoscopic images of the depressions which allowed them to analyse whether the crater was made by an asteroid impact, or from volcanic activity which melted away the surface ice.
They then created 3D images which “lets us test this idea of volcanic or impact.”
The experts found that both depressions had a funnel shape that gradually narrowed as they get deeper.
Mr Levy said: “That surprised us and led to a lot of thinking about whether it meant there was melting concentrated in the centre that removed ice and allowed stuff to pour in from the sides.
“Or if you had an impact crater, did you start with a much smaller crater in the past, and by sublimating away ice, you’ve expanded the apparent size of the crater.”
While they are uncertain about the latter depressions origin, they are sure that the Hellas depression was born from volcanic activity.
The interaction between ice and lava could create an environment which has nutrient and chemical rich liquid water in abundance – the basis for life on Earth.
Gro Pedersen, a volcanologist at the University of Iceland who was not involved with the study, said: “These features do really resemble ice cauldrons known from Earth, and just from that perspective they should be of great interest.”