Scientists peer inside a Mars meteorite to check for signs of a habitable world
Liquid water once shaped the rock inside a meteorite from Mars, but likely did not support any microbial life, a new study finds. The rock is part of a class of meteorites known as nakhlites, which by birth are volcanic rocks that an asteroid impact blasted off Mars about 11 million years ago. In the new study, researchers examined the Miller Range 03346 nakhlite, a 1. "From previous research, we know that minerals in this specific meteorite reacted with water about 630 million years ago," study lead author Josefin Martell, a planetary scientist at Lund University in Sweden, told Space.
Related: See a sunrise on Mars in this stunning view from NASA's InSight lander (photo) But Martell and her colleagues wanted more detail about the rock's history. "I think it's really exciting that we can study meteorites without having to cut them open," Martell said. The scientists found that minerals within the meteorite that liquid water had altered were concentrated within isolated patches.
These findings suggest that at the area where the nakhlite originated from, "the conditions were not fruitful for life to emerge or thrive," Martell said. These findings suggest that neutron and X-ray scans may prove useful in analyzing rocks from other planets — "for example, when NASA brings back samples from Mars," Martell said. The scientists detailed their findings in a paper published May 11 in the journal Science Advances.
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