About Mars the planet May 13, 2020 12:42:20 GMT
Post by kirinke on May 13, 2020 12:42:20 GMT
Famous Mars meteorite discovered with interesting, new organics
Scientists are looking at Mars in a whole new way. That’s because a new analysis of a famous piece of the red planet has revealed something exciting: traces of nitrogen.
Nitrogen, together with organic molecules — carbon-rich molecules that are considered the building blocks of life as we know it — have been spotted in the Alan Hills meteorite, a new study suggests.
The Alan Hills sample was discovered in Antarctica in 1984 and is one of the largest, most famous meteorites from Mars. That’s because it sparked quite the controversy when it was first found. Some of the first analysis of the rock suggested that the sample contained microbial fossils. This led to rumors that scientists might have spotted their firsts signs of Martian life.
Over billions of years, Mars has been stripped of its atmosphere, and as such, its surface is subjected to cosmic radiation as well as blasts from interstellar objects. Sometimes the blasts are so powerful that chunks of rock are ejected into space and eventually land on other planetary bodies such as the moon or Earth.
Scientists estimate that the Alan Hills sample arrived on our planet at least 13,000 years ago and that the sample itself is around 4 billion years old. This 4-lb. chunk of rock is the oldest known meteorite from Mars that we’ve found.
Mars, as we know it today, appears to be a pretty inhospitable place for life. But that wasn’t always the case. Mars was once a lush, wet world, and new evidence points to the fact that an ancient chunk of the red planet is harboring traces of organic molecules.
These types of carbon-rich molecules are the building blocks of life. Their presence does not necessarily qualify as a definitive sign that life was once present on Mars, but it bolsters the case. That’s because this particular sample doesn’t just contain a random set of organic molecules; it contains traces of nitrogen explicitly.
And nitrogen is something that life here on Earth depends on.