Studying rocks on Mars brought to the surface by meteorite strikes may help us understand how early life formed on Earth. “Exploring these rocks on Mars, where the ancient geologic record is better preserved than on Earth, would be like finding a stack of pages that have been ripped out of Earth’s geological history book,” says planetary geologist Joseph Michalski. (Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU)

Posted by James Montalto-Stony Brook on Monday, January 21, 2013 11:17

Search for life on Mars goes underground

STONY BROOK (US) — Minerals from deep inside Mars offer the strongest evidence to date that the red planet could have supported life.

Up to half of all life on Earth consists of simple microorganisms hidden in rocks beneath the surface and for some time scientists have suggested that the same may be true for Mars. Now this theory has been supported by new research, which suggests that the ingredients for life have been present in the Martian subsurface, a zone of more than three miles below ground, for much of the planet’s history.

When meteorites strike the surface of Mars, they act like natural probes, bringing up rocks from far beneath the surface. Recent research published in the journal Nature Geoscience shows that many of the rocks brought up from the Martian subsurface contain clays and minerals with a chemical make-up that has been altered by water, an essential element to support life.

Read more: Futurity – Search for life on Mars goes underground.

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