Mars rovers 'could be less than 7ft away from finding proof of aliens', say NASA
NASA boffins say that Mars rovers could unearth evidence of alien life if they dig seven feet down into the Red Planet.The hunt for extra-terrestrials involves discovering certain amino acids on Mars, which in turn are a component to build proteins.However, new research by the US space agency published in the journal Astrobiology suggests cosmic rays are destroying this evidence on Mars faster than we realised.READ MORE: NASA baffled after 'mystery spacecraft' smashes into the Moon leaving odd craterAlexander Pavlov, of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, said: "Current Mars rover missions drill down to about two inches."At those depths, it would take only 20million years to destroy amino acids completely."The addition of perchlorates and water increases the rate of amino acid destruction even further." Although it sounds like a long time, 20m years is just a blip when hunting for proof of ancient life from billions of years ago, when Mars was much more like Earth.NASA now reckons that the rovers will need to dig around 6.6ft deep to make a breakthrough and find amino acids that haven't been degraded by ionising radiation from space.Pavlov, who was the lead author of the study, continued: "Missions with shallow drill sampling have to seek recently exposed outcrops — e.g., recent microcraters with ages less than 10m years or the material ejected from such craters."There is evidence to suggest that, billions of years ago, Mars had a thick atmosphere and global magnetic field shields like Earth.This atmosphere would have allowed for liquid on the Red Planet. It also would have blocked cosmic rays from reaching the surface.