Mars meteorites analyzed for signs of life: Here’s what scientists found
The biggest question facing scientists regarding Mars is: Has the Red Planet ever had life? While the search for life on Mars is underway and with more vigor than ever, precise results are unlikely to be found anytime soon. NASA aims to bring back samples of Mars by 2030, and only analyzing those samples can clarify whether life exists on the planet. However, scientists are studying material from Mars – in the form of meteorites. Researchers from Lund University in Sweden investigated a 1.3 billion-year-old meteorite from Mars and found it had very limited contact with water. In other words, the existence of life at that particular time and place is highly unlikely.
The scientists used neutron and X-ray tomography, the same technology that will be used to study samples being collected by Endurance Explorer and will be brought back from Mars, to come to their conclusion. They used this technology to find out if there were any major hydrothermal systems, which are generally favorable for life. X-ray tomography is a popular method of studying an object without damaging it. Neutron tomography is used because neutrons are sensitive to hydrogen.
Hydrogen has always been of interest in finding traces of life on other planets because water (H2O) is a prerequisite for life as we know it. “Since water is central to the question of whether life once existed on Mars, we wanted to investigate to what extent the meteorite reacted with water when it was still part of the stellar background. Mars,” Josefin Martell, a doctoral student in geology at Lund University, said in a statement declare.
The discovery shows that a fairly small portion of the meteorite appears to have reacted with water. This means that the Martian crust sample “cannot provide habitable environments that could contain any life on Earth.” Mars“During that particular time period, the scientists wrote in the journal study Scientific advance.
They hope that their findings will help NASA scientists study the samples as they are returned to Earth.