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What is the story of Mars clay?, Today, Tuesday, November 23, 2021 02:03 am
Culture and arts – 17/11/2021 13:02
CLOCK – A team of researchers in space and astronomy has made a discovery that supports years of belief that the red planet Mars once hosted life.
The team found new evidence revealing the presence of mud similar to the mineral “gluconite” on Mars, which is also present on the Earth’s surface, indicating that the planet enjoyed habitable conditions and human life on its surface in the past.
In the results of research published in the journal Nature Astronomy a few days ago, clay minerals extracted from the “Gale Crater” area on the surface of the Red Planet – which is believed to be the site of a dry lake – were analyzed among the evidence brought by NASA’s Curiosity rover from Mars, after its voyage in 2016.
Evidence-gathering process from the dry lake of Mars
In 2016, the NASA space probe sent to explore Mars, Curiosity, drilled into the dry lake region of Gale.
The rover extracted samples of clay minerals in the ground, and used its tools to analyze the substance. Using those samples, the researchers took a closer look at the results of the analysis, and found that it is very similar to the similar gluconite clay on the planet.
It is worth noting that gluconite is a mineral of iron and potassium fluorosilicate.
It is almost always present in oval shapes with layers of sediments, carbonates and sandstones, and its formation requires stable conditions over a long period.
The new discovery suggests that conditions on Mars will be stable for millions of years
This result confirms that the discovery of similar mud on Mars is very exciting, as it indicates that it was likely to have formed under stable conditions for a long time on the surface of the planet, perhaps for millions of years.
This, in turn, suggests that for at least one part of the surface of Mars, conditions were, to some extent, suitable for life as long as millions of years.
And Nature Astronomy notes that previous research has already found that the Gale Crater was once filled with water, forming a massive lake that lasted for several million years around 3.5 billion years ago.
The researchers believe that during that time period, Mars had a thicker atmosphere, which contributed to the continued presence of surface water on the planet.
The gluconite-like mud found by the probe also indicates that temperatures during that period ranged from only -3 to 15 degrees Celsius, and that the pH of the water in the crater was neutral.
Both results are positive and definite signs of life on the Red Planet, which has long aroused the curiosity of astronomers.
The researchers also noted that their findings are not evidence of the existence of life as we know it on our green planet, on Mars as well, but they made it clear that there was a time in the life of this planet when conditions on its surface were favorable for the existence of life.
Curiosity has been searching for biosignatures, or signs of past life on Mars, since it first landed on the planet in 2012.
More future research is needed
Today, after much studies and analysis of the evidence collected from Mars, it is believed that it consists mostly of mud, dust and gas, but long ago it may have been home to lakes, rivers and microbial life.
Of course, researchers still need to know exactly where and how these molecules appeared.
The study notes, according to Popular Science, that the particles could stem from geological processes on the planet, but could also be an indicator of the planet’s habitability and life in the past.
Researchers are waiting for the launch of the European Space Agency’s ExoMars mission to get more samples to work with in the near future.
In the meantime, this unexpected discovery helps to create a clearer understanding of the history of Mars, and little by little scientists continue to unravel the secrets of the Red Planet, and to clarify whether it is a suitable future plan for human life.