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Without a human scientist roaming the surface of Mars, it's devilishly difficult to find out whether there's ever been life on the red planet. Current robotic explorers aren't really built to answer that question.
But in a paper published in the journal Astrobiology, a scientist describes patterns in Martian rock that she says look uncannily like the fossil signatures from primitive microbial life on Earth.
Geobiologist Nora Noffke of Old Dominion University in Virginia analysed Curiosity's Mast Camera images of a spot in Gale Crater called the Gillespie Lake Member, where the rocks could be almost 3.7 billion years old. While examining images the rover snapped in 2012, Noffke began to notice patterns in the rock that reminded her of structures she studied on Earth.
As Noffke pointed out, scientists think that Mars and Earth may have looked fairly similar in their early history.