Perhaps people who keep asking whether there’s life on Mars can finally put their questions to rest. Glass deposits were found on the red planet, opening a crack in the window of Mars’ past.
Deposits of glass from a violent impact were detected by a team from Brown University through NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO).
This is significant because biosignatures may be preserved in these glass shards.
According to PhD Student Kevin Cannon at Brown University: “Knowing this, we wanted to go look for them on Mars and that is what we did here. Before this paper, no one had been able to definitively detect them on the Martian surface.”
Cannon, along with co-author Jack Mustard, were able to expose several ancient glass craters dotting the Martian landscape. Future exploration plans to target some of these fairly common impact features.
According to Professor Mustard, “Glasses tend to be spectrally bland or weakly expressive, so signatures from the glass tend to be overwhelmed by the chunks of rock mixed in with it. But Kevin found a way to tease that signal out.”
The researchers were able to find these craters by comparing a signal made from powders close to the composition of the rocks on Mars and then measured their spectral signal. After this, they then looked for that spectral signal from NASA’s MRO.
The authors of the study said that “We think these could be interesting targets for future exploration. In fact, we have a particular spot in mind.”