Martian meteorite may hold clues to water on the Red Planet

May 24, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists are examining fragments of a Martian meteorite to try to establish when water was freely flowing on the red planet.

Using powerful electron microscopes, Dr Martin Lee and colleagues at the University of Glasgow are painstakingly scanning a tiny chunk of a called Nakhla, which fell to Earth in 1911, reputedly hitting a dog in Egypt.

The team is looking for minerals within the meteorite that might have been carried there by water seeping through tiny pores in the rock which then crystallised.

Dr Lee, a senior lecturer in Geographical and Earth Sciences, said: “When the minerals crystallise they contain certain elements which are radioactive and therefore decay over time - , for example, which decays to form argon. By measuring the levels of argon we are able to determine roughly when the minerals grew and hence when the water deposited them there.

“Meteorites like this offer the best way of analysing the Martian environment and geological history as there’s more of Mars on Earth than we could ever bring back from the planet itself. It’s possible that we might even find bits of trapped within rocks, and maybe some traces of within that.

Explore further: NASA asteroid defense program falls short: audit

Provided by University of Glasgow

5 /5 (2 votes)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Meteorite bombardment may have made Earth more habitable

Jun 01, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Large bombardments of meteorites approximately four billion years ago could have helped to make the early Earth and Mars more habitable for life by modifying their atmospheres, suggests the ...

Life on Mars theory boosted by new methane study

Dec 08, 2009

Scientists have ruled out the possibility that methane is delivered to Mars by meteorites, raising fresh hopes that the gas might be generated by life on the red planet, in research published tomorrow in Earth an ...

Recommended for you

India's spacecraft 'on target' to reach Mars

15 hours ago

An Indian spacecraft is on course to reach Mars, an official said Monday, following a 666-million-kilometre voyage that could see New Delhi's low-cost space programme win Asia's race to the Red Planet.

Rosetta's lander Philae will target Site J

17 hours ago

(Phys.org) —Rosetta's lander Philae will target Site J, an intriguing region on Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko that offers unique scientific potential, with hints of activity nearby, and minimum risk ...

User comments : 0