Water may have one day existed on Mars, but the evidence isn’t enough to definitively tell us whether or not there was life on the Red Planet. It’s not like stumbling across a small stream in the desert and finding a nearby habitat. The landscape today is barren, lonely, and because Mars is such an alien place, there’s no telling how welcoming the water was to ancient life. Turns out, quite hospitable, according to new analysis of Martian meteorites.
Studies conducted by John Bridges from the University of Leicester Space Research Centre suggest water temperatures on Mars once ranged between 122 degree Fahrenheit and 302 degrees Fahrenheit, giving it a make up that would’ve been accommodating for microbial life. It’s certainly an extreme environment, but some microorganisms here on Earth, as determined by Biologists, are actually able to thrive in such conditions.
“As an example, microbes have been found in the volcanic thermal springs at Yellowstone Park — water sources that, as we now know, are comparable in temperature to what was once found on Mars,” io9 explained.
Bridges was able to use an electron microscope and transmission electron microscope on meteorites found in impact craters, and ascertain from minerals found therein, the planet’s potential water temperature.
“The mineralogical details we see tell us that there had been high carbon dioxide pressure in the veins to form carbonates,” Bridges said. “Conditions then changed to less carbon dioxide in the fluid and clay minerals formed. We have a good understanding of the conditions minerals form in but to get to the details, chemical models are needed.”
Bridges’s research is very interesting, and delves deeply into the study of potential Martian life. If water did exist, in what capacity? How much? And where did it all go? Certainly discussion worth visiting, and it’ll be interesting to hear what kind of answers turn up.