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Here on Earth, we find silica deposition in glaciers which are characteristic of melting water, on Mars, we can identify similar silica deposits in younger areas, but we can also see older areas which are similar to deep soils from warm climates on Earth. This leads us to believe that on Mars 3 to 4 billion years ago, we had a general slow trend from warm to cold, with periods of thawing and freezing. If this is so, it is important in the search for possible life on Mars.
We know that the building blocks of life on Earth developed very soon after the Earth's formation, and that flowing water is essential for life's development, so evidence that we had early, flowing water on Mars, will increase the chances that simple life may have developed at around the same time as it did on Earth. We hope that the Mars 2020 mission will be able to look more closely at these minerals, and begin to answer exactly what conditions existed when Mars was still young.
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