Mars crater – a special discovery in clay sediments: a place found where life could exist




A new NASA study has shown that traces of past life on Mars could have been destroyed in some parts of the planet.

The astonishing discovery does not reduce the probability that scientists on the Red Planet will be able to discover life manifestations, writes the LiveScience.com portal.

NASA’s Curiosity spacecraft has discovered it in astonishing exploration of clay sedimentary rocks around Geilo Crater, the site of its landing. Geilo Crater is the site of what was once a lake, formed 3.6 billion years ago. year when the Red Planet was hit by an asteroid.

Clay is a good sign to prove the existence of life, as it is usually formed when rocky minerals rot after contact with water, an essential component that proves the existence of life. Clay is also an excellent material that can preserve microbial fossils.

However, when Martian curiosity took two samples of argillite of the same age (3.5 billion years), a sedimentary rock containing clay, separated by 400 years, researchers found that one of these samples contained clay minerals, half lower than expected. But that pattern contained more iron oxides, compounds that give Mars a distinctive brown-pink color.

A new NASA study has shown that traces of past life on Mars could have been destroyed in some parts of the planet.

A new NASA study has shown that traces of past life on Mars could have been destroyed in some parts of the planet.

According to a team of scientists, the culprit of this geological difference is extremely salty water that has poured into layers of clay rich in minerals and destabilized them. In this way, the minerals were washed away, leaving no geological or perhaps even biological traces in the rocks.

“In the past, we thought the layers of clay minerals that formed at the bottom of Lake Geil crater for billions of years remained the same as if they had preserved that moment of formation,” study lead author Tom Bristow of Mount Wines, California, said the Research Center researchers. “But later in some places the salt water destroyed these clay minerals, basically destroying the traces of the rocks.”

The Martian performed the study by drilling layers of Martian rocks and then using CheMin chemical and mineral equipment to analyze the samples.

The process of chemical transformation in the sediment is called diagenesis – according to the authors of the study, it could have led to the creation of new life below the surface of Mars, although it destroyed some of the previous evidence of life on the planet’s surface.

Therefore, according to scientists, although previous evidence of life may have disappeared due to salt water, the chemical conditions caused by this influx of salt water probably provided an opportunity to develop new life at the site.

“These places are great for looking for traces of old life and assessing life opportunities,” said John Grotzinger, a professor of geology at the California Institute of Technology and co-author of the study. – Although diagenesis has destroyed evidence of life since the time the lake was here, it has created the chemical gradients needed to sustain subterranean life. So we’re really excited to discover that. “

A new NASA study has shown that traces of past life on Mars could have been destroyed in some parts of the planet.

A new NASA study has shown that traces of past life on Mars could have been destroyed in some parts of the planet.

The mission of curiosity to Mars began nine years ago. Despite the fact that the mission was originally supposed to last two years, the Martian continues to explore the Red Planet and seeks to determine the historical viability of Mars. Curiosity is now aided by another new Martian, Perseverance, who landed in February 2021. Its task is to collect samples of rocks and soil that can be transferred to Earth.

A study of curiosity not only revealed how the climate of Mars is changing, but also helped Perseverance select soil samples for collection to more likely find traces of life.

“We realized this is very important: some parts of the Mars rock can’t properly preserve the planet’s past and possible traces of life,” explains Ashwin Vasavada, a scientist from NASA’s Curiosity project at California’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and co-author of the study. “But we’re lucky to have found both types of rocks near Geilo Crater and we can use mineralogy to separate them.”

The search for life on Mars gave new impetus to a new study that could identify possible locations for the release of six methane gases. According to Live Science, this gas was discovered by Martian curiosity while exploring Geil Crater.

Methane gas is formed in the Earth’s atmosphere only from biological sources, so scientists are happy to discover this gas on Mars.

Source: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/373/6551/198

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