Mars Meteorite Gives Clues Of Water And Life on Red Planet

Mar 10, 2017, 00:36
Mars Meteorite Gives Clues Of Water And Life on Red Planet

And that in turn means that Mars may have been a wetter place than had been thought, according to the global study, which was done in part at the Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

A team of worldwide scientists from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), in their recent breakthrough, have found that Mars, in ancient days was likely much dripping previously through to be. The results show that the mineral would be dehydrated in the aftermath of the shocks, resulting in the formation of a mineral found in Martian meteorites, but not on Earth, known as merrillite. The mineral, called merrillite, contains no water or hydrogen - which led to the assumption that its Martian origins were likewise devoid of liquid. That can happen for instance when a meteor hits the planet, causing bits of rock to get blown into outer space. To simulate the condition of ejecting meteorites from the planet, they utilized shock-compression experiments on whitlockite samples.

They found that shocked whitlockite dehydrates and turns into - merrillite. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

The new study hints that ancient Marsmay have been very wet indeed. Whitlockite can be dissolved in water to make phosphorus - which is required to bring about life on Earth - and the material could therefore once have been abundant on the planet. For this scientists have even considered injecting greenhouse gasses which are warm to the atmosphere of the Red Planet, revealed Tech Times.

The transformation of whitlockite into merrillite during the experiments was a simulation: Scientists were able to recreate the pressures and temperatures comparable to those of a meteorite impact for only about 100 billionths of a second, approximately one-tenth to one-hundredth as long as an actual meteorite impact. But if the tests created even partial conversion to merrillite, a real impact would likely have produced "almost full conversion" to merrillite, Tschauner said.

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Mars may once have been far wetter than we imagined - lending weight to the idea that the Red Planet once supported life.

The finding comes amid a number of recent revelations about water on Mars.

Now, scientists must prove merrillite found on Earth was once whitlockite. In 2013, scientists announced that streaks on the planet's surface appear to be caused by flowing water, and late a year ago researchers said that they had found a huge underground body of water ice on the planet.

"We have to go back to the real meteorites and see if there had been traces of water", Tschauner said.

How does one identify a meteorite from Mars, anyway? If they aren't from Mars, they are from a planet exactly like it, scientists concede. Numerous discoveries we have made about Mars came from studying martian meteorites and wouldn't be possible without them.