Water on Mars: Minerals in Martian Meteorites Provide New Clues

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Water on Mars: Minerals in Martian Meteorites Provide New Clues

"Martian meteorites are pieces of Mars, basically they are our only samples of Mars on Earth until there is a sample return mission". With the help of Berkeley Laboratory, they conducted simulations on a mineral that has been found in Martian meteorites. It emerged from this harsh treatment dehydrated and changed into something else entirely: merrillite, a mineral common on the Red Planet. It is an unusual form of calcium phosphate. The mineral, called merrillite, contains no water or hydrogen - which led to the assumption that its Martian origins were likewise devoid of liquid.

According to a new study from an global team of scientists from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV), it seems that Mars may have been a lot wetter than previous estimates gave it credit for. Then they conducted shock-compression experiments on their ersatz whitlockite, aping the violence with which meteorites get ejected from Mars. The researchers at the United States Space Agency think that a sufficiently high power magnetic shield if launched into space will be serving as a replacement for the Red Planet's magnetosphere that is lost. A study released by the University of Colorado and NASA on December 5, 2002 theorizes that water, which might have carved canyons like Valles Marineris, came from short cataclysmic events caused by asteroids slamming into the Martian surface and melting ice under ground. The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

Whitlockite also contains phosphorous, an essential element for life on Earth.

The new study hints that ancient Marsmay have been very wet indeed. For this scientists have even considered injecting greenhouse gasses which are warm to the atmosphere of the Red Planet, revealed Tech Times.

The experiments showed the heat generated by the impact can transform whitlockite into merrillite. Such strikes may therefore have produced "almost full conversion" to merrillite, Tschauner said in the same statement.

Scientists have found that Mars was likely far wetter - and capable of supporting life - than previously thought. It is to be noted that other teams of researchers have come up with evidence of liquid water flowing on Mars now.

Not only does this find raise the "water budget" for Mars in the past, it also raises new questions about Mars' habitability.

"The only missing link now is to prove that (merrillite) had, in fact, really been Martian whitlockite before", Tschauner said.

"We have to go back to the real meteorites and see if there had been traces of water", Tschauner said.

How does one identify a meteorite from Mars, anyway? As suggested by the study, the previous hypothesis and narration about water and life on Mars's surface might be completely mistaken. 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.

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