NASA has confirmed the presence of ancient lakes on Mars, which could have existed long enough to support life.
The space agency said its latest study of the red planet confirmed that Mars was capable of storing water in lakes over an extended period of time, billions of years ago.
Curiosity Rover landed on the planet's Gale crater. Scientists have now determined that water helped deposit the sediment in this region.
The discovery of Mars being able to hold water in lakes over a long period of time, suggests that the red planet was more like the earth than previously thought.
"What we thought we knew about water on Mars is constantly being put to the test,” said Michael Meyer, lead scientist for NASA’s Mars Exploration Program at NASA.
"It’s clear that the Mars of billions of years ago more closely resembled Earth than it does today. Our challenge is to figure out how this more clement Mars was even possible, and what happened to that wetter Mars."
According to scientists, one of the key clues is the presence of mudstones near the main mountain known as Mount Sharp.
"Observations from the rover suggest that a series of long-lived streams and lakes existed at some point between about 3.8 to 3.3 billion years ago, delivering sediment that slowly built up the lower layers of Mount Sharp," said Ashwin Vasavada, Mars Science Laboratory project scientist at NASA.
The existence of lakes for up to 10,000 years is long enough to have supported life, some experts said.
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The findings have been described in a study published by Science.
Sharon Wilson, senior author told the Guardian:
"On Earth we know that water is an essential ingredient for forming or sustaining life. If the same was true for Mars, the presence of long-standing lakes could have been an ideal environment for life to take hold."
She added: "If there was life on ancient Mars, it would have to adapt to survive as the climate evolved over time.”