Earth-like environment likely on ancient Mars | Science & Technology

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A research team using the ChemCam instrument onboard NASA’s Curiosity rover discovered higher-than-usual amounts of manganese in lakebed rocks within Gale Crater on Mars, which indicates that the sediments were formed in a river, delta, or near the shoreline of an ancient lake. The results were published today in Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets.

“It is difficult for manganese oxide to form on the surface of Mars, so we didn’t expect to find it in such high concentrations in a shoreline deposit,” said Patrick Gasda, of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Space Science and Applications group and lead author on the study. “On Earth, these types of deposits happen all the time because of the high oxygen in our atmosphere produced by photosynthetic life, and from microbes that help catalyze those manganese oxidation reactions.

“On Mars, we don’t have evidence for life, and the mechanism to produce oxygen in Mars’s ancient atmosphere is unclear, so how the manganese oxide was formed and concentrated here is really puzzling. These findings point to larger processes occurring in the Martian atmosphere or surface water and shows that more work needs to be done to understand…

Source www.sciencedaily.com

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