The scientific community has conclusively proven that Mars had an early habitable terrestrial environment. We know that water, a source of energy, elements such as carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, and sulfur, as well as catalytic transition metals essential to life, are all produced under these conditions. However, the continued development of this possibility to the independent emergence of life on Mars is not clear.
A team of scientists from Juergen Schieber, professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Indiana University’s College of Arts and Sciences in Bloomington, and colleagues on NASA’s Curiosity Rover mission have found the first visible evidence of a wet-dry cycle. at the beginning of March. The latter condition is believed to be necessary for the evolution of prebiotic chemistry, the first step to the origin of life.
As the mud dries, it shrinks and breaks into T-shaped cracks like Curiosity’s Old Soaker, a mud crack beneath Mt. Those cracks indicate that the Old Soaker mud formed and dried once, while re-exposure to the water that created the new mud cracks caused the T-cracks to soften and form a Y shape, resulting in a hexagonal pattern.
Although Professor Schieber’s primary research interest is the geology of shales and mudstones of Earth, his interest in the foundation has led him to place a large number of mudstones on Mars, and this has led to discussions with the planners of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Curiosity. at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. Mission Rover.
“Given my experience with these rocks, I was invited to join the MSL science team, and since our landing in August 2012, 11 years ago to this day, our passage has been dominated by mudstones,” said Professor Schieber.
On Mars, the constant wet-dry cycle, recirculation, inundation, and flooding create cracks in the lake floor, and in these cracks, high salt concentrations grow, causing the crystallization of residual minerals from lake evaporation and sedimentation.
Finally, this process is preserved as a polygonal (hexagonal or pentagonal) pattern seen by the rover. Due to water pollution, wastewater can contain high concentrations of dissolved salts and organic molecules that can serve as substrates for life.
“The theory is that when these elements and organic molecules are forced to approach and increase the salinity, they can begin to polymerize and form long chains, creating the conditions for spontaneous chemistry that can start the complex chemical evolution that can lead to living organisms. He said.
“When we see carpet-shaped or polygonal ridges in mudstones, we are excited by this mental image. Here, there is evidence of moisture and drying that can set off interesting chemistry in cracks.”
Knowing from previous research that lake sediments should contain the minerals calcium and magnesium sulfate, the team used the Chemcam instrument on the Curiosity Rover to examine the cement rocks to confirm their chemical composition.
Sediment characteristics of mudstones studied by Schieber and his co-authors can be explained by the fact that over time mineral deposits are placed on top of each other – mineral deposits, mineral deposits.
According to the authors of the study, if organic molecules are present in residual brines, this situation may be favorable for the development of more complex organic molecules and pre-biotic chemistry.