Published: Fri, March 10, 2017
Culture | By Kelly Harrison

Mars Meteoroids Suggest Mars to Be More Damped than Previous Estimations

Mars Meteoroids Suggest Mars to Be More Damped than Previous Estimations

Scientists at the University of Nevada created a synthetic version of whitlockite, complete with hydrogen.

Mars used to be a wet place in the distant past as recent studies have shown. Scientists have thought of launching a plastic magnetic shield into the space that will help to protect Mars from the solar winds, and thereby foster life on Mars.

Up till now, a particular mineral detected in Martian meteorites was estimated to be the only proof of the ancient and dry environment of Mars.

Minerals from Martian meteorites appear to be indicating that the planet once had an abundance of water, making Mars much wetter than what scientists have assumed so far. From this, they determined that Mars may have had a lot more water on its surface than previously thought.

The interchange of whitlockite and merrillite was studied thoroughly by the researchers. Impacting asteroids that knocked the rocks off Mars and into space could have converted them from the latter into the former. They are an object lesson in the conditions that prevailed so long ago in the history of the solar system. However, what could really prove these theories is a piece of Mars itself.

"Thus, significant whitlockite on Mars would mean more available phosphorus in aqueous environments for any potential prebiotic or biotic reactions", the researchers noted in the study.

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Merrillite, the mineral found in meteorite from Red Planet, is regarded as an indicator of dry environments.

As a member of the whitlockite group that is commonly found in Lunar and Martian meteorities, this mineral is known for being anhydrous (i.e. containing no water).

For the sake of their study - titled "Shock-Transformation of Whitlockite to Merrillite and the Implications for Meteoritic Phosphate", which appeared recently in the journal Nature Communications - the global research team considered another possibility. To simulate the condition of ejecting meteorites from the planet, they utilized shock-compression experiments on whitlockite samples.

The Mojave Crater on Mars, where some of the Martians meteorites retrieved on Earth are believed to have originated from. The question before the scientists was whether the water in the past was a part of Mars or its meteorites that crashed on the earth. While up to now, no absolute credence has found which can officially corroborate the presence of water on ancient Mars, a new global study has come up with some interesting, may be a solid credential about the presence of water on ancient Mars. Whitlockite can be dissolved in water to make phosphorus - which is required to bring about life on Earth - and the material could therefore once have been abundant on the planet.

Furthermore, this experiment could resolve another question: is there, or has there ever been, life on Mars? Ancient Mars used to have a lot of water and life-supporting capability than it earlier estimated to be. "We have to go back to the real meteorites and see if there had been traces of water", Tschauner said.

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