Water rich Mars? New study suggests a more inhabitable past

Nasa image of Mars

SWNS NASAThe presence of hydrogen in this mineral may signal that Mars was previously covered in water

Since we're obsessed with aliens, especially from next-door Mars, water on the neighboring planet has been the subject of much scientific attention.

The only problem is, most of the source material for merrillite-rich Martian meteorites found on Earth is buried more than a half-mile beneath the surface of the Red Planet. There is a mineral commonly found in these Martian meteorites called merrillite, that does not exist on Earth.

Water is thought to be one of the central building blocks and requirements of life, and any discovery of water vastly improves the chances that the planet was inhabited. Numerous discoveries we have made about Mars came from studying martian meteorites and wouldn't be possible without them. And phosphorous is necessary for that life to come about. The research team created synthetic whitlockite in the lab. Using a synthetic version of whitlockite, they began conducting shock compression experiments on it created to simulate the conditions under which meteorites are ejected from Mars. The researchers then studied their microscopic makeup with top-of-the-line X-ray machinery, the Mirror Online reports.

Now, another kind of mineral found on Mars, and also rarely on earth, is called whitlockite. "If even a part of merrillite had been whitlockite before, it changes the water budget of Mars dramatically", said Oliver Tschauner, a professor who co-led the study with Christopher Adcock.

Furthermore, this experiment could resolve another question: is there, or has there ever been, life on Mars?

'The overarching question here is about water on Mars and its early history on Mars: Had there ever been an environment that enabled a generation of life on Mars?'

Researchers achieved simulated collisions by firing fragments of the synthetic whitlockite against metal plates at extreme speeds.

Of the over 100 Martian meteorites that have been retrieved here on Earth, and range in age from between 4 billion years to 165 million years. That was only about 1 per cent as long as the actual experience would be - meaning that the conversion to merrillite would be even more potent on Mars.

"We have to go back to the real meteorites and see if there had been traces of water", Tschauner said. If they found it, it would add to the already huge evidence that Mars once flowed with water and might continue to do so today. While up to now, no absolute credence has found which can officially corroborate the presence of water on ancient Mars, a new worldwide study has come up with some interesting, may be a solid credential about the presence of water on ancient Mars.

According to Breaking News, the atmosphere of Mars has been damaged by the solar winds that have resulted in the destruction of ninety percent of the layer that provides Mars with water and the proper temperate climate more than about three billion years ago.

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