Pasta-like rocks best bet for life on Mars: Study

Rocks on the surface of Mars that look like layers of pasta may be the most obvious sign of life on the Red Planet, a NASA-funded study suggests.

The bacterium that controls the formation of such rocks on the earth is ancient and thrives in harsh environments that are similar to conditions on Mars, said the study published in the Astrobiology.

“It has an unusual name, Sulfurihydrogenibium yellowstonense . We just call it ‘Sulfuri’,” said Bruce Fouke, a professor at the University of Illinois in the U.S.

The bacterium belongs to a lineage that evolved prior to the oxygenation of Earth roughly 2.35 billion years ago, Mr. Fouke said.

It can survive in extremely hot, fast-flowing water bubbling up from underground hot springs.

It can withstand exposure to ultraviolet light and survives only in environments with extremely low oxygen levels, using sulphur and carbon dioxide as energy sources.

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