Life on Mars is a subject that been debated and investigated at length by filmmakers and scientist alike. Several theories backed up by previously conducted studies have suggested the Red Planet once hosted oceans – just last week a group of scientists found fire opal (a precious gem that forms in and around areas with hot springs) on a Martian meteorite from 1911.
And as we all know, wherever there’s water, there is life.
Adding to this line of thinking, NASA’s Curiosity Rover has now found a curious rock formation on the surface of the Red Planet. The discovery was made with the help of the ChemCam laser, and space scientists say that the light-colored rocks resemble the Earth’s own granitic continental crust. It’s the first discovery of its kind and what it means is that Mars most likely once had oceans.
Roger Wiens, lead researcher on the ChemCam instrument and member of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, gave a statement informing that space scientist initially saw some very beautiful rocks along Curiosity Rover’s path of red dust. They had bight, large crystals on them, which was very unexpected for Mars.
He went on to explain that “As a general rule, light-colored crystals are lower density, and these are abundant in igneous rocks that make up the Earth’s continents”.
Experts have long believed that the surface of Mars is basalt based. Its igneous rocks typically sport a dark in color, are pretty dense, and resemble the ones forming on planet Earth, at the oceanic crust. But the newly discovered, atypical, light-colored rocks, found in the Gale Crater area, are also very old. The researchers estimated that they formed roughly four (4) billion years ago.
After an international team of French and American researchers looked at images of 22 of the newly discovered rocks and examine their chemical composition, the experts concluded that they have rich reserves of feldspar, very likely mixed with quartz. They show a great deal of similarity to the Earth’s own granitic continental crust.
Violaine Sautter, first author of the study, gave a statement of her own saying that these old Martian crustal components have an unusually close resemblance a rock type found on planet Erath, known among geologists as rocks that formed over 2.5 billion years ago, before the terrestrial continental crust that formed during the Archean era. This could prove to be the launching point for future studies to take an in-depth look at Red Planet’s geology.
The study was published earlier this week in the journal Nature Geoscience.
Image Source: telegraph.co.uk