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: Orion on track at T MINUS 1 Week to first blastoff

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

Orion on track at T MINUS 1 Week to first blastoff

38 minutes ago

At T MINUS 1 Week on this Thanksgiving Holiday, all launch processing events remain on track for the first blast off of NASA's new Orion crew vehicle on Dec. 4, 2014 which marks the first step on the long ...

Bad weather delays Japan asteroid probe lift off

6 hours ago

Bad weather will delay the launch of a Japanese space probe on a six-year mission to mine a distant asteroid, just weeks after a European spacecraft's historic landing on a comet captivated the world.

Manchester scientists boost NASA's missions to Mars

15 hours ago

Computer Scientists from The University of Manchester have boosted NASA space missions by pioneering a global project to develop programs that efficiently test and control NASA spacecraft.

ESA image: The gold standard

16 hours ago

The Eutelsat-9B satellite with its EDRS-A payload is shown in the anechoic test chamber of Airbus Defence and Space in Toulouse, France, having completed its final antenna pattern tests today.

Frost-covered chaos on Mars

16 hours ago

Thanks to a break in the dusty 'weather' over the giant Hellas Basin at the beginning of this year, ESA's Mars Express was able to look down into the seven kilometre-deep basin and onto the frosty surface ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.