Me­te­orites re­veal a dry Mar­tian sur­face

Down to Earth - - THE FORTNIGHT -

does not ex­ist on the sur­face of Mars, con­cludes an in­ter­na­tional re­search team, af­ter ex­am­in­ing me­te­orites on the red planet. The re­searchers point out that the Mar­tian me­te­orites lack rust, in­di­cat­ing that the planet has been ex­tremely dry for mil­lions of years. To drive home the point, ex­perts used data col­lected from Mars Ex­plo­ration Rover Op­por­tu­nity and ex­am­ined a me­te­orite clus­ter lo­cated at the Merid­i­ani Planum, a plain sit­u­ated south of the Mars equa­tor. Sci­en­tists cal­cu­lated the chem­i­cal weath­er­ing rate on the planet to de­ter­mine how long it would take for rust to form on the me­te­orites' metal­lic iron com­po­nents. Based on their find­ings, it would take be­tween 10 and 10,000 times longer for Mars to reach the same rate of rust for­ma­tion that the dri­est deserts on Earth are ca­pa­ble of. A study au­thor said Mars once sup­ported life, but ev­i­dence points to this as ex­ist­ing more than 3 bil­lion years ago. For find­ing life, sci­en­tists have to look be­neath the sur­face.

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