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But let me take a selfie first! NASA’s Curiosity rover takes a 360-degree photo of the Red Planet

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The search for life on other planets has captivated humanity for decades.

But the reality could be a little less like the Hollywood blockbusters, scientists have revealed.

They say that if there was life on the red planet, it will likely present itself as fossilized bacteria — and have proposed a new way to search for it.

These are the most promising signs of life yet –

Water

When looking for life on Mars, experts agree that water is key.

Although the planet is now rocky and barren with water trapped in polar ice caps, there may have been water in the past.

In 2000, scientists first discovered evidence for the existence of water on Mars.

The NASA Mars Global Surveyor has found gullies that may have been formed by flowing water.

There is ongoing debate as to whether these recurrent slope lines (RSL) may have been formed by water flow.

meteorites

Earth has been hit by 34 meteorites from Mars, three of which are believed to have the potential to carry evidence of past life on the planet, Space.com writes.

In 1996, experts found a meteorite in Antarctica known as ALH 84001, which contained fossilized bacteria-like formations.

However, in 2012, experts concluded that this organic material was formed by volcanic activity without the involvement of life.

Signs of life

The first close-ups of the planet were taken by the Mariner 4 mission of 1964.

These first images showed that Mars has landforms that may have formed when the climate was much wetter and therefore home to life.

In 1975, the first Viking orbiter was launched and, while inconclusive, it paved the way for other landers.

Many rovers, orbiters and landers have now revealed traces of water beneath the crust and even the occasional precipitation.

Earlier this year, NASA’s Curiosity rover found potential building blocks for life in an ancient Martian soil.

The organic molecules preserved in 3.5-billion-year-old rock at Gale Crater — believed to have once contained a shallow lake the size of Lake Okeechobee in Florida — suggest conditions may have been conducive to life at the time.

Future missions to Mars plan to bring samples back to Earth for more thorough testing.

methane

In 2018, Curiosity also confirmed sharp seasonal increases in methane in the Martian atmosphere.

Experts said the methane sightings are “one of the most compelling” cases for current life.

Curiosity’s methane measurements took place over four and a half Earth years, covering parts of three Martian years.

Seasonal peaks were detected in late summer in the Northern Hemisphere and late winter in the Southern Hemisphere.

The magnitude of these seasonal peaks – by a factor of three – was much larger than scientists had expected.

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