Mars once had water warm enough to sustain life
By George Dvorsky | io9.com
We know that Mars once had lots of water, considered a prerequisite for habitability. What hasn’t been known, however, is just how friendly — or unfriendly — this water might have been to life, as the temperature and chemical conditions of ancient Martian water has remained a complete mystery.
But as a new analysis of Martian meteorites has revealed water temperatures on the Red Planet once ranged between 50°C to 150°C (122°F to 302°F) — temperatures that we know are most certainly hospitable to microbial life.
Biologists who study extremophiles on Earth have discovered many microorganisms that can survive and thrive in some of the most extreme environments. As an example, microbes have been found in the volcanic thermal springs at Yellowstone Park — water sources that, as we now know, are comparable in temperature to what was once found on Mars.
To make this determination, John Bridges from the University of Leicester Space Research Centre, took a closer look at a special class of Martian meteorites found only in impact craters. Called nakhlites, these rocks are characterized by an intricate series of small veins which are filled with minerals formed by the action of water near the surface of a planet.
By using an electron microscope and a transmission electron microscope, Bridges and his colleagues studied the peculiar alterations found in eight different samples. They discovered that the first mineral to grow along the walls of the vein was iron carbonate, which would have been formed by carbon dioxide-rich water at around 150°C. Then, after cooling to about 50°C, it formed clay minerals, followed by an amorphous phase that gave it the same composition as clay.
Fascinatingly, microbes use these exact reactions during mineral formation to gain energy and elements required for their survival.
"The mineralogical details we see tell us that there had been high carbon dioxide pressure in the veins to form the carbonates," noted Bridges through the official release. "Conditions then changed to less carbon dioxide in the fluid and clay minerals formed. We have a good understanding of the conditions minerals form in but to get to the details, chemical models are needed."
And indeed, subsequent analysis by Susanne Schwenzer, Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Physical Sciences at The Open University, confirmed that this order-of-operations in mineral formation was what truly happened. As a result, Bridges and Schwenzer were able to predict water conditions on Mars. At first, the water was around 150°C and contained a lot of CO2 (forming the carbonates), and then cooled to about 50°C (thus forming the clays).
Interestingly, the driving force responsible for heating the water would have likely been asteroid impacts on the surface. Given just how pockmarked the planet is, there’s a good chance that Mars once featured many of these warm reservoirs.
The entire study can be found at Earth and Planetary Science Letters.
Article from: io9.com
Spidery black objects on Mars surface raise speculation
Weather On Mars Surprisingly Warm, Curiosity Rover Finds
Mars rover Curiosity finds signs of ancient stream
Mystery Spheres on Mars Baffle Scientists
Latest News from our Front Page
Congratulations Pussy Porters!
Mural paid for by the government, decorates a Swedish school.
On International Womenâ€™s day Julia Caesar published this chronicle in Swedish on Snaphanen which Iâ€™ve translated but prior to reading it Iâ€™d like to provide you with some background information on certain terms which are incomprehensible to non-Swedes.
First and foremost â€śpussy porterâ€ť and â€śpenis porterâ€ť are terms that third-wave feminists in ...
Germanwings co-pilot appears to have crashed plane deliberately â€“ prosecutor
The Germanwings co-pilot seemed to have crashed the plane deliberately, killing 150 people on board. The co-pilot wouldnâ€™t let the captain inside the cabin, with the â€śintension to destroyâ€ť the jet, the French prosecutor said at a press conference.
Follow RTâ€™s live updates on investigation into Germanwings plane crash
The Germanwings co-pilot was identified as Andreas Lubitz.
The captain was between 30 ...
Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary
The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced.
â€śHenâ€ť will be added to â€śhanâ€ť (he) and â€śhonâ€ť (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academyâ€™s SAOL.
The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender â€“ either because ...
Unchecked government drones? Not over my backyard
On last Thursday, the Federal Aviation Administration gave Amazon the green light to begin testing drones.
While you arenâ€™t likely to be getting your Amazon order delivered by drone anytime soon, as the approval is limited to research and testing, the fact remains that this technology is already part of our lives. Drones are already helping the federal government observe and ...
Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
For years, Finland has been the by-word for a successful education system, perched at the top of international league tables for literacy and numeracy.
Only far eastern countries such as Singapore and China outperform the Nordic nation in the influential Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) rankings. Politicians and education experts from around the world â€“ including the UK â€“ have ...
|More News » |