A team from NASA’s Mars Exploration Program (MEP) is spending two weeks in Australia to carry out research to help shape its exploration of the Red Planet.
The expedition is focusing on stromatolites – the oldest known macro fossils. It’s estimated stromatolite fossils found in the Dresser Formation of the Pilbara in Western Australia are almost 3.5 billion years old.
The team will compare what they’ve found during a week in the Pilbara, with samples collected from Mars, in the hunt for extraterrestrial life.
‘This is really important,’ NASA MEP director Eric Ianson said. ‘Not only to tell us things about life on Earth, when it began and how it may have evolved over time – but also from a NASA standpoint because we are getting ready to return samples from Mars.’