Washington, Aug 20 ANI | 4 months ago

Scientists have discovered a mineral rich structure on Mars that might provide evidence of a niche environment on the planet's sub-surface that could support life.

The new ovoid structure discovered in the Nakhla Martian meteorite is reportedly made of nanocrystalline iron-rich clay, which contains a variety of minerals, and showed evidence of undergoing a past shock event from impact, with resulting melting of the permafrost and mixing of surface and sub-surface fluids.

In the article, 'A Conspicuous Clay Ovoid in Nakhla: Evidence for Subsurface Hydrothermal Alteration on Mars with Implications for Astrobiology,' Elias Chatzitheodoridis, National Technical University of Athens, Greece, and Sarah Haigh and Ian Lyon, the University of Manchester, UK, described the use of tools including electron microscopy, x-ray, and spectroscopy to analyze the ovoid structure.

Sherry L. Cady, PhD, said that this study illustrated the importance of correlating different types of datasets when attempting to discern whether something in rock was a biosignature indicative of life.

Although the authors couldn't prove definitively that the object of focus was evidence of life, but the research strategy revealed a significant amount of information about the potential for life to inhabit the subsurface of Mars.

The article is published in Astrobiology, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers and it is available Open Access on the Astrobiology website.

(Posted on 20-08-2014)

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