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
Pressure from the United Patriots Front Stops Mosque Plan
Pressure from the United Patriots Front appears to have killed off a mosque development in Narre Warren North.
The City of Casey council now looks likely to withhold planning approval for the development in a special meeting set for Tuesday night.
A council report, to be considered by councillors on Tuesday, recommends that the approval be blocked.
The mosque opponents’ cause has been helped by councillor ...
Police face questions over the influence of the Freemasons
South Yorkshire Police today face questions over whether powerful 'secret society' the Freemasons held sway over the force at the time of Hillsborough.
Families of victims say that officers who were Masons were promoted into powerful positions despite being ill-equipped, including match commander David Duckenfield.
Duckenfield told the fresh inquests he had been a Freemason since 1975 and became head of his ...
England Bans its Own Flag to Avoid Offending Muslims
St. George's Cross "racist" towards immigrants
Government officials said their city was ‘too multicultural’ to celebrate St George’s Day, England’s version of the 4th of July.
The council said that displaying the English flag may have been seen as “racist” towards immigrants.
Half of Western European men descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’
Half of Western European men are descended from one Bronze Age ‘king’ who sired a dynasty of elite nobles which spread throughout Europe, a new study has shown.
The monarch, who lived around 4,000 years ago, is likely to have been one of the earliest chieftains to take power in the continent.
He was part of a new order which emerged in ...
"Local Residents" Are Filmed Stealing Dozens of Bottles of Water at London Marathon Stop
Editor's Comment: "Local" residents? Why bother blurring their faces? We know who they are.
London marathon runners were robbed of dozens of bottled waters when thieves raided a refreshment area armed with trolleys during today's race.
Nearby residents - including parents with children - were captured on camera piling up crates of free water handed out by volunteers during the 26-mile event.
|More News » |