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3.5 billion years ago conditions may have been just right for life to emerge on Mars, say scientists.

Which is also about the same time the first stirrings of life are believed to have begun on our own planet.

The conclusions come from the latest discoveries by the Mars rover Curiosity.

An artist's rendition shows the Mars Pathfinder La

The intrepid machine has uncovered evidence that it is in the middle of what may have been a freshwater lake eons ago.

It drilled holes in two Martian rocks and found geology remarkably like that of Earth.

Project scientist and CalTech geology professor John Grotzinger tells the Times “The environment would have existed long enough that they could have been sustained, prospered, grown, multiplied,” he said. “All the essential ingredients for life were present.”

“The environment would have existed long enough that they could have been sustained, prospered, grown, multiplied,” he said. “All the essential ingredients for life were present.

This means there is a possibility that life emerged in the ancient past of the Red Planet.

The rover’s instruments detected clays that, scientists say, could only have come from being part of a lake bed.

Ice on Mars

Scientists are also excited by the prospect that a huge sea of ice could be trapped just below the rusty surface.

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