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It is hard to find ancient life on earth that is over 3 billion years old. Rocks get reworked over time. They get melted and metamorphosed, folded and fractured. Fossil evidence is easily lost. So in my opinion, search for present day life where there is water, either at the poles or in deep canyons. I have located water as a geologist and water well driller for over 40 years. You get more water in the fracture zones than the normal rock. You get more water in the deep valleys than the plains. It does not make any sense to look for water where they are looking. Where there is water there is likely to be life.

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    $\begingroup$ This seems to be more of your question, and then your answer. Could you restructure it to only have relevant details and make it a question? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 19:05
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    $\begingroup$ The question is based on a false premise: there are vast ice sheets under a large fraction of the Martian surface, at mid latitudes where one doesn't have to deal with polar winters or canyon terrain. It's not just at the poles and in canyons. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 28, 2023 at 21:21

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The problem with the Martian Polar areas is that Mars has an axial tilt slightly greater than Earth's and a much longer year. This means that any probe going to a polar area would suffer a very severe winter with low temperatures and darkness for many months.

In order for the probe to survive some form of nuclear power would be needed and in order to do any extensive drilling a lot of that power would be needed, probably going to need a reactor.

As for panspermia it is possible that life originated elsewhere and arrived on Earth later. But it is also possible that the process worked the other way round or that there was no panspermia. We don't have much evidence to go on.

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