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A new study points to limited water circulation at the end of Mars’ history – ScienceDaily

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A research team led by Lund University in Sweden studied a meteorite from Mars using neutron and X-ray tomography. The technology, which is likely to be used when NASA investigates samples from the Red Planet in 2030, has shown that the meteorite had limited exposure to water, making life at this particular time and place unlikely.

In a cloud of smoke, NASA’s Perseverance spacecraft parachuted to the dusty surface of Mars in February 2021. For several years, the spacecraft will slip and take samples to try to answer a question posed by David Bowie in “Life on Mars” in 1971. only around 2030 does NASA really intend to send samples to Earth, but material from Mars is already being studied – in the form of meteorites. In a new study published in Advances in sciencean international research team has studied a meteorite about 1.3 billion years old using advanced scanning.

“Because water plays a major role in whether life ever existed on Mars, we wanted to investigate which part of the meteorite reacted with water when it was still part of Mars,” said Josephine Martel, Lundski, MD. university.

To answer the question of whether there is any major hydrothermal system that is generally a favorable environment for life, the researchers used neutron and X-ray tomography. X-ray tomography is a common method of examining an object without damaging it. Neutron tomography has been used because neutrons are very sensitive to hydrogen.

This means that if a mineral contains hydrogen, you can study it in three dimensions and see where the meteorite is hydrogen. Hydrogen (H) is always of interest when scientists study material from Mars, because water (H2O) is a necessary condition for life as we know it. The results show that a fairly small portion of the sample appears to have reacted with water, and so it was probably not the large hydrothermal system that led to the change.

“A more plausible explanation is that the reaction occurred after small clumps of underground ice melted during a meteorite impact about 630 million years ago. Of course, this does not mean that life could not exist elsewhere on Mars or that there could be no life at other times, ”says Josephine Martel.

The researchers hope that the results of their study will be useful if NASA returns the first samples from Mars around 2030, and there are many reasons to believe that modern technology with neutron and X-ray tomography will be useful if this happens.

“It would be interesting if we had the opportunity to study these samples at the European Spallation Source, ESS in Lund, which by then will be the world’s most powerful source of neutrons,” concludes Josephine Martel.

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Materials provided Lund University. Note: Content can be edited by style and length.

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