NASA says the secrets to ancient alien life on Mars may be found in a lake in Turkey.
Scientists believe the minerals and rock deposits at Lake Salda, in the south of the country, could hold vital clues.
They say they are the nearest match on Earth to those found around the Jezero Crater on the Red Planet.
And they could unlock the mysteries of life on Mars.
The crater, where NASA’s rover Perseverance landed, is believed to have once been flooded with water.
Information gathered from the lake could help experts as they search for fossilised traces of microbial life preserved in sediment.
Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA associate administrator for science, said Salda “will serve as a powerful analogue in which we can learn and interrogate”.
He added: “When we find something at Perseverance we can go back to look at Lake Salda to really look at both processes, (looking at) similarities but equally importantly differences that are really between Perseverance and Lake Salda.
“So we are really glad we have that lake, just because I think it will be with us for a long time.”
American and Turkish planetary scientists carried out research in 2019 on the shorelines of the lake, known as Turkey’s Maldives because of its azure water and white shores.
The sediments around it eroded from large mounds that are formed with the help of microbes and are known as microbialites.
The team behind the Perseverance rover, the most advanced astrobiology lab ever flown to another world, wants to find out if there is similar material on Mars.
They will also compare the beach sediments from Salda with carbonate minerals – formed from carbon dioxide and water – detected on the margins of Jezero Crater.
Samples of rock drilled from Martian soil are to be stored on the surface for eventual retrieval and delivery to Earth by two future robotic missions, as early as 2031.